As Central Texans, the heat and humidity does slow us down a bit in the summer but few of us just flat out quit because it’s too hot. We’re lucky. We’re highly motivated, competitive and so single-minded, we refuse to let anything—much less a little weather—get in our way.
But not everyone is as focused as we are. Many Texans, who ordinarily exercise, just say screw it in the summer and never get off the couch.
A new study by researchers at UT have found that most adults who lives in hot places like Austin and San Antonio are much less active in the summer and add on unwanted pounds. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that adults who are the least active and most obese live in the Southeast in hot, humid counties, while many of the most active, least obese live in the mountainous sections of the West where summers are cool and the air is dry.
Lead researcher Paul von Hippel of the LBJ School of Public Affairs who wrote the study with doc student Rebecca Benson, said: “Living in Texas as I do, the results really resonated with me. Around June or July here, it starts getting hard to think about going outside for a jog—even a brisk walk—after work, which is close to the hottest part of the day.”
He’s right: It is hard to walk, run or cycle in the summer, but so what? We adapt, run even earlier than normal, drink a lot more and move on. Caving into the heat is just not an option.
Von Hippel suggests, “You have to come up with a strategy for staying active in the summer. Are you going to get up early which is the coolest part of the day? Are you going to swim? Or are you going to do something indoors, like basketball or ice skating or just walking on a treadmill.”
Of course, it’s much harder to train in the summer, but doing so has plenty of advantages. Although the heat and humidity forces us to run slower (not a bad thing), it actually simulates some of the positives that athletes get from altitude training. Once acclimated to the heat, you can significantly improve your VO2 max and lactate threshold levels—important determinants in fitness levels—to the same levels athletes at altitude can.
Hard to believe, but we might be better off running through our brutal summers than if we lived on the north coast of Maine.
O Kelly Williamson got a brand new Felt racing bike last week just in time for the Coeur D’Alene Ironman on Sunday in Idaho. Williamson, one of the top pro triathletes in the country, ordinarily wouldn’t do two Ironmans in a single season but she needs the points to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman World Champs. Said her husband and coach Derrick Williamson, “Even though Kelly won the Texas IM, she can’t afford to just do 70.3s and expect to qualify for Hawaii. This new bike could make as much as a 10 percent difference in Idaho.” After Coeur D’Alene, the couple will spend three weeks training at altitude in Colorado and then spend the rest of the summer in Austin. “I’m a firm believer that training here through the heat is a big advantage,” says Derrick, a coach and exercise physiologist. “The time we spend every summer in Colorado allows Kelly to put in more miles, but training through the heat here really gets her ready for Hawaii.” Derrick believes Kelly needs to be able to run a 2:52-2:54 marathon in the Hawaii IM to finish on the podium this year.
O In addition to David Fuentes’ Olympic Marathon Trials PR and qualifier at the Grandma’s Marathon (Garry Bjorklund Half), several other Austinites had big races. Among the women, Megan Betts PR’ed with a time of 2:54:02, followed by Jennifer Harney in 2:57:49 and Hannah Steffan in 2:59:08. Sunday Patterson ran 3:21:40, Christine McAllister ran 3:34:12, Sandy Lechtenburg of Helotes finished in 3:37:39 and Jennifer Guernica ran 3:38:53. The Texas men were led by Ashish Patel (his first marathon since the hot Boston of 2012) in a PR of 2:34:09. Matthew Fisher finished in 2:52:57 and the aging wonder Dave Moody of San Marcos ran 3:02:55. Todd Parton of Kerrvile recorded a 3:07:13. Other than Fuentes (1:04:36), Matthew Williams of San Antonio also snared an Olympic Trials qualifier by finishing in fourth in 1:04:24. Jacob Phillips of Dallas, who races occasionally in Austin, finished in 1:08:49 and Jared (Mr. Asics) Carson, who has been injured, gutted out a 1:20:04. Among the women, Dawn Grunnagle of Dallas also got an Olympic Trials qualifier with a time of 1:14:56. She’s never run a marathon and says she probably won’t run one before the Olympic Trials in 2016. Good luck with that.
O UT’s Marielle Hall capped a brilliant career two weeks ago with the NCAA 5000-meter championship. Hall is now embarking on a professional running career and will run the 5000 meters this weekend at the USATF Championships in Sacramento. Last week, Hall signed on with Ray Flynn as her agent and, rumor has it, snagged a contract with Brooks. She’ll have her hands full in Sacramento with the likes of Abby D’Augustino, Shannon Rowbury and Molly Huddle.
O Also running the Nationals in Sacramento are Longhorns Morolake Akinosun (100 meters), Kendall Basiden, Ashely Spencer and Briana Nelson (400) and Zack Bilderback in the 400. Leonel Manzano is running the 1500 and former Longhorn (current Rogue) Allison Mendez is running the 10,000, while Devin Monson (Rogue) is running the men’s 10,000. So is former Oregon (and Cedar Park) stud Parker Stinson. Sara Pease and Mary Goldkamp (Rogue) are running the steeple.
O No surprise here, but Mo Trafeh, who has been the subject of drug rumors for years, was caught with a banned substance (EPO) and now faces a lifetime suspension. An eight-time USD road champ and the 25-K American record holder, Trafeh doesn’t deny he had the EPO, but has a unique excuse: Although he said he never used it, Trafeh says he bought it for someone else. Trafeh won the 2011 Half Marathon championships in Houston in 1:02:17. He’s a naturalized American from Morocco.
O Former Austinite Matthew Maton, who now lives in Bend, Oregon, ran a 4:03 mile in New York City. Then, last weekend, Maton won the Brooks Mile in 4:06.32. He’s a senior-to-be at Summit HS and has an automatic qualifier for the National Junior Championships which is the qualifier for the World Juniors which will be held in Eugene. If he makes that far, he should have a significant home field advantage as he has won four state championships on the Hayward Field track. BTW: Maton was named Oregon track athlete of the year. Come back to Texas.
O We were all very saddened to hear this week that Kate Goldstein, a 28-year-old doc student at MIT, died in India. Goldstein, who ran with Gilbert’s Gazelles in 2008, lost her footing while on a trail run on June 14 and evidently fell off a cliff several hundred feet into a ravine.
O The Western States 100 gets started Saturday morning in Squaw Valley, California and the Central Texans entered are led by Paul Terranova of Austin who finished eighth last year. Terranova, who is 40, could move up a couple of places this year. In January, he was fourth in the Bandera 100-K. A gifted triathlete, Terranova has concentrated on the ultras for the past couple of years. Elizabeth Howard and Amanda Alvarado of San Antonio are also running as is Eric Zipfel of Austin and Daniel Zoch of Driftwood.
O There will be an extensive two-day marathon seminar down in Houston (benefiting Team Green) on August 15-16. Some of the notables who will speak include the great Joe Vigil on technical aspects of the marathon, Dan Green on training adjustments runners must make, Elizabeth Broad on nutrition, Desiree Linden (nee, Davila) on training and racing, Rashard Ford on core training and Becky Wade on running cultures and her experience around the world. For more info, go to www.tgrunningsolutions.com.
O At another conference at UT – this one on Diet & Health in America, September 12-14 – there will be several notable speakers, including Mark Bittman and John Mackey (Mr. Whole Foods) as well as Rip Esselstyn and his father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, plus Jimmy McWilliams, a professor of history at UT (and a top runner). For info, go to foodandhealth2014.com.
O No word yet from sponsoring FloTrack on the World Beer Mile on the when and where of the races. Mark Floriani of FloTrack says it will be in early December somewhere in Austin, but they haven’t secured a track yet because the consumption of beer is bound to be problematical. If you know of a place, send us an email at email@example.com.
O Rogue’s Alison Macsas won the Angel Fire (New Mexico) Endurance 50K last weekend with a course record time of 5 hours, 32 minutes, besting the previous record of 6:13. She was third overall in the race.
O Richard Pennington is a long-time Austin runner (and author) who moved to Korea few years ago where he now teaches. He’s only running a 4-5 miles a day, but still was able to finish the Seoul International Marathon in March.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Taking It to the Streets,” by the Doobie Brothers. Unlike most long-time Doobie fans, I love this album which was the first with Michael McDonald.
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