Friday, June 12, 2020

Heat Love

Where I grew up in Maryland, the summers can get hot. And it's not even just the temperature,but the humidity. The average temperature in July is usually close to 90 degrees and the humidity can be stifling.  On plenty of summer days, there would be warnings from the Weather Service about not going outside because of the combination of high temperature and humidity. 

For some reason, I have always loved the heat, and I mean very high heat and humidity, and I absolutely love to train in the heat. Cold temperatures are fine to train in, but I only do it to prove to myself that I am not a coward. It's definitely not as enjoyable for me as training in the heat.I don't see any reason for cold except for going hunting when the birds migrate at that time. Other than that, I'd rather it be hot, extra hot. 

When I trained for football in high school, I’d always run in the heat of the day, usually around 2 pm. I always felt that if I trained during that time, then the heat of practice would be nothing for me. Much of that running was done in the woods across the street from my house. There was some shade, but it was still smoking hot. And then I’d run down the hill to the house and turn on the hose and spray it all over my head and gulp some of the cold water. Or my Dad would squirt me with the hose if he was out watering the garden. It was probably a mile run, sometimes more, sometimes less.

When I got to college, I’d run twice a day, at 10 am and 2 pm in the offseason. I divided the days up: The morning was for cross country (again, never more than a mile. More like jog-sprint up a hill-jog), the evening for sprints. I had three different trails that I ran that had hills and straightaways and more hills. And then in the evening, I'd go to a football field and run sprints or I had a hill that I'd run that was way back in the woods that I affectionately named “Throw Up Hill” because most of the time when I ran it , I'd end up puking my guts out. What a hill! I guess it was like 60 yards, and it had some fallen limbs across the path and sand and lots of rocks. And at the bottom of it was this little brook that I'd leap over at the start and the finish. My own self made rule was that as soon as I leapt across the brook and turned around, I had to go right away. 

The football field sprints were usually 5, 10 yard sprints, 5, 20 yard sprints and 5, 40 yard sprints. I'd walk back and go right away. 

I remember running so much that my squat weights went down and I didn’t care. I figured that was part of it. I had to get ready for three- a -day practices.

 In later years, if my football players worried about not maxing as much weight before camp as they did in the spring, I explained the stress involved with the amount of running , especially in the last month before camp. These days, football players can stay strong all the way through the season. I had players gain weight during the season and get stronger the last few years that I coached. There are no two -a- days and practices are relatively easy compared to the old days. Lots of rules because of players dying and head trauma , which I get. But up until just a few years ago, if you were in camp and not in running shape , you were doomed. Of course strength is important, and as a strength coach, I loved the new rules! The players stayed strong and got less injured. And these kids are big, very big. There's a lot of beef banging into each other out there and you need to be strong as hell to survive. Plus everyone has the tv timeouts to rest. It's like BAM! Walk back to the huddle, rest, tv timeout, rest, BAM! Just a different game. Not worse or better , just different.

Back to the heat and training. When I was done with playing football in college, I still lifted, did some bodybuilding and powerlifting and stuff. At one point, I got really into Muay thai and Boxing and fell in love with the training (except jump rope. I hate jump rope. Jump rope is stupid) especially on a hot summer day. Try going a few rounds on the Thai pads in oppressive heat and you will learn a whole new level of fighting to survive. 

When I moved to New Jersey years ago, I found a killer hill that was a bitch to run in the heat, but my favorite work out to perform, and still is, is to go in my shed on a hot summer day and hit BOB, that rubber punching bag that looks like a man. It's hot as hell in there, especially with the door shut. Sometimes I'll do just 5 rounds of 30 seconds of punches with a 30 seconds rest, sometimes I will do 10, 1 minute rounds with a minute rest.Just throwing punches the whole time, different combinations. It's been 112 degrees in there and I don't care at all. It's so much fun, just dripping sweat and not being able to breath. You feel so damn alive, like you are a surviving son of a bitch. And you don't care if your neighbors hear you grunting when you are hitting the bag because you are picturing some face that you hate, taunting you, and hell, you are in another place in your head. You have blocked it all out, all of it. You have blocked out life and are totally present. 

I am not trying to be a tough guy by training in the heat. I should probably talk about taking in water and minerals and such.I know that's the right, the smart thing to do.  But I really don’t do that stuff. I just go over to the hose and drink a bunch of water.

I can see how cold would be trying to train in and I get the toughness factor about it. But give me a suffocatingly hot, humid day and I am a happy camper.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.