What happens when you are forced to ignore heat training advice? You know, the articles where they give varying degrees of heat and what you are supposed to do in each scenario. Invariably there is a section that tells you to cut back once it gets too hot or stick to running indoors for faster recovery. There was a Runner’s World article I read not too long ago that described racing in 80° as “gruesome conditions.” However, as many of us know, living in the desert, trying to train for a fall race, and being morally opposed to spending hours on a treadmill leaves you with little choice about braving the heat.
I could listen to the “leave water along your route” recommendation (which logistically would work better if I ran roads) or run on small circuit trails, but that hardly mimics my race strategy. So I acclimatize as best as I can for 110°+ heat and I run in the heat and other like-minded runners do the same.
To rewards our efforts (or to punish… not sure which) Aravaipa Running puts on the Insomniac Night Trail Run Series during the summer months (and into the fall) where the unsuspecting believe the lack of sun will ease their passing though gnarly desert single track. Instead, they find large pockets of stagnant super-heated desert air, terrible footing with only a headlamp to illuminate the way, and the realization that 104° without the sun is still triple digit heat that the sane majority of the world seeks to avoid. With daytime temperatures reaching 116° just days before the 2014 July version (Vertigo), and minimum temperatures not dropping below 93° a runner isn’t going to find much solace in the dark.
The Aravaipa Running Insomniac Night Trail Runs are almost a monthly occurrence throughout the summer starting in May and not ending until mid-November. Usually 3 distances are offered: 10K, 25-30K, and an ultra-distance for those humans who suffer better than others. The competition in each distance can be as fierce as the heat. There is no getting used to one venue either – every month runners find themselves lining the start at a new trailhead, each with its own perils: some are sandy, some are entirely too rocky, some have imperceptible dips that the headlamp cannot catch, and all have cactus – so a fall isn’t exactly a nice little roll into the bushes.
Before working for Aravaipa, I made the Insomniac Series my reward for summer heat training: a good test of my fitness once or twice a month and a chance to socialize with friends from all over the valley. This year I get to be behind-the-scenes and my excitement is only heightened as I am able to watch these events come together into what can only be described as big parties in the desert. For 2015 almost all of the races except Blackout (duh!) will be near-full moons! If you haven’t already heard, the Insomniac Series is all grown-up and we are now offering a Beer Garden at our events to help support the local chapter of Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB). Both Huss Brewing and Blasted Barley have signed on to sponsor the Beer Garden and are generously offering multiple cold-beer options for runners at the end of their race (or in the middle… if that’s when you decide it’s necessary). A BIG thank you to our other sponsors: Black Diamond & Nathan Performance Gear. You can pick up a Black Diamond Spot Headlamp for a 25% discount when you register online or race-day ($30). Nathan will also be doing product giveaways at every race!
Team RWB will be hosting training runs for every Insomniac Series race so look out for Facebook events with further details on each one. Even if you can’t make the race, you can always go check out the training run for a minimally supported weekend long-run.
One of the great things about the Insomniac Series is how it allows for safe, fun, and effective night-time training that many of us who train for ultras seems to neglect. However, if it’s just not for you then make sure to check out some of our volunteer opportunities and be part of the fun while saving those race credits for a cooler fall race!
Can’t wait to see you out there for the biggest party on the trails this summer!