Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beating The Heat with a Frozen Drink Pre-run

I once read somewhere that quickly drinking a slushy-type beverage shortly before a race or workout in warm conditions can help performance by cooling the body's core temperature. I had always wanted to try this, but it's not always convenient to pop into a 7-11 immediately before a race or run.

Since you're not supposed to do anything new on race day, I figured I would try drinking a frozen beverage before this morning's workout. My coach recently started hosting workouts very close to my current office location. This is kind of ironic because I will be changing jobs in two weeks, which will put me only one mile away from the regular team workouts that have been going on for years.

The meeting spot for today's workout was in front of a Panera. I figured this would be a perfect occasion to drink a slushy just minutes before a warm weather workout. Not only that, but this meeting spot is also the exact same location as the 4th of July race I am running next week. So I will have access to that same Panera, and I confirmed that they will be open on the 4th. The plan would be to warm up for a mile or so, get the frozen drink about 15-20 minutes before race start, drink it quickly and then be ready to race.

My beverage of choice was the frozen lemonade. It seemed like it would be pretty easy on the stomach and
Panera Frozen Lemonade
that the consistency would be good-- not too heavy or too thin. I purchased it, and started drinking it as quickly as was comfortable. One of my teammates approached me and I told her what I was doing. I was really excited to finally try this out, after having heard of it a long time ago.

Shortly after I finished, I noticed that my teeth were chattering and I was getting goosebumps. Yes! I really did feel like my core body temperature had dropped. It was actually a bit uncomfortable waiting for the rest of the group to arrive while not moving around.

It was a small group today-- 5 runners plus the coach. We jogged out to the W&OD trail (a paved biking/running trail with mile markers) and did about a 2-mile warmup. And then we talked about the workout. It would be three 1-mile repeats, back and forth on the trail with about five minutes of recovery in between.

Our coach briefly discussed a pacing goal for each of us. Last week I had run a two-mile tempo run at a pace of 7:12, so this week he thought that 7:00 would be a good target for my mile repeats. I honestly hand't anticipating my pace being that fast. It was warmer and more humid than it had been last week, so I figured I would be lucky just to match my 7:12 pace.

Of the five of us runners, the coach decided to pace me for all three repeats. I wasn't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing because that 7:00 pace sure was intimidating, and I didn't want to disappoint!  The trail is a little hilly, with the first mile being a net downhill, the second a net uphill, and the third a net downhill. But all three miles have their fair share of ups and downs!

Mile 1: 6:57
I didn't look at my Garmin here and just trusted the coach. It actually felt relaxed and somewhat easy until the final uphill, when I let out my gaspy scream that happens when I am working hard. My coach told me to  keep my breathing controlled and that wouldn't happen. Interesting revelation. I never thought I could control the grunts and screams that I let out, but apparently it's a product of my breathing not being even and it also causes uneven breathing- making it a cycle. Now I have a new "process" goal as opposed to always thinking about time goals!

Mile 2: 7:01
This was much harder than the first mile since it was a net uphill. If I had been pacing myself, it probably would have fallen closer to the 7:10-7:15 range. But the coach pushed me on the hills and we maintained the pace. I typically slow down a little on uphills and speed up on downhills, but instead I kept the pace even and it worked out well. By the end of this one, I was beat!

Mile 3: 6:50
This was the exact same mile as the first one, so I knew what elevation profile to expect. Since I pushed pretty hard on the second mile, I was worried I wouldn't have enough left here. But the first half of the mile felt nice and relaxed, and it wasn't until the second half that I felt like I was really working. I was shocked to see the 6:50 when we finished the mile.

Then we cooled down and jogged back to the Panera. I think that my coach pacing me here was the largest factor in my success. I wouldn't have been as motivated on my own. And I also think that the frozen lemonade kept me from overheating, which I tend to do in workouts like these (70 degrees, 99% humidity).

This workout proved to me that I am in better shape than I previously thought. To run these kinds of paces in such weather and on hills is a huge confidence booster. These are the types of paces I would expect from a 45-degree day on a flat surface!  I'm therefore pretty optimistic about my upcoming 5K. If the weather is similar to how it was this morning, then I think a sub-22:00 is in the cards, which would be a "summer race" PR for me.

I am also excited to have a new non-time goal to focus on: breathing. I will try my best to focus on that and see if it helps. Another process goal would be to get energy from other runners. To find a runner who is running the pace I think I can run and then stay close to them.

And of course, the frozen lemonade will be a must!


  1. Wow, I am impressed with your mile repeats! Great job!

  2. Oh I'm totally stealing this frozen drink idea...

    Awesome job on the mile repeats! Sounds like you had a great workout and I agree it bodes well for your 5K. :)

  3. Interesting to try this! I'm not sure I'd be successful with it, I wouldn't like feeling that slosh around in my stomach. Great run though, wow!

  4. You had a great run!! When we spoke, I didn't know you had done the frozen lemonade, and now I want to try it!!! :)