Tip of the Week: Racing in HOT Weather!

TOTW: Training/Racing in the Heat, by Steve & Cindi
Summer is upon us... which means so is the heat!
As a coach, I call this the "assure athlete's they are still fit."
Simply put, you can't go as fast in 85 degrees as you can in 50 degrees. It’s physically not possible.

In the attached file, I highlight a lot of good information coming from a Runner’s World article from a few years back. In the article, it talks about what actually is causing your HR to be higher when training in the heat and physiologically what is happening in your body to cause these effects.

What this boils down to is this: You can’t run as fast in the heat as you can in cooler/more moderate temperatures. You can train yourself to adjust to the heat in preparation for a hot event, but you won’t ever adjust yourself to be able to race at the speed you did when it was cooler.

"It's generally recognized that for every 10-degree increase in air temperature above 55 degrees, there's a 1.5 percent to 3 percent increase in average finishing time for a marathon. (Translation: An extra 3 to 6 minutes for a 3:30 marathon with every 10-degree increase.)"

So when you are doing a workout and your Half Marathon pace feels like 5k pace... or when your 70.3 watts feel like threshold... or when fatigue on a workout jumps on your back... it’s not because you're not fit... it's because the heat is reducing your ability to go at the level you once did when it was 20 degrees cooler. Pushing through, or trying to push through, will only lead to exhaustion. Psychologically, this leads to frustration. The solution to this is: adjust your expectation and lower your ego. If you don’t, the heat will get you twice over because you’ll be running slower because of the heat and then be running doubly slow because you are allowing the negative self-talk to creep in, telling you that you are performing poorly or aren’t fit. Don’t let that happen, adjust your expectation.

Take note of the section on ‘dewpoint’ in the article. This is pretty fascinating stuff. 

In Kona it's 76 Degrees with a Dew Point of 70. 
In Kentucky, its 85 Degrees with a DP of 70
In Asheville, its 83 Degrees with a DP of 63
In Madison, its 75 Degrees with a DP of 59

So when you look at Kona, with a DP of 70 (high head and high humidity), that’s pretty tough conditions. It could be just like this in Door County or Racine or IMWI (and Madison 70.3!). 

In conclusion, do what you can to prepare for a variety of conditions on race day to give your body the best chance for success under a variety of conditions. And then if it is ‘one of those days’, check your ego at the door, be flexible with your goals, listen to your body, and race smart. It certainly isn’t always about times or paces, and knowing your body and what you can sustain in those conditions will give you a leg up on the competition.