Tips for racing & training in unfavourable weather - partial transcript from Audio for Week of August 26/13
Ok, let’s get to topic of the day - Tips for training in unfavourable conditions.
Seems like a good fit given we’ve had yet another very hot and stick few days in Toronto this week.
So what do I mean by unfavourable?
Well, I’m talking about heat… due to temp and/or humidity …and and I’m talking about wind…
as far as heat goes, we Canadian residents will not have too many more hot days to contend with but wind can always be an issue.
But then we can get some very hot days in September and October…remember in 1984 the New York City marathon? The temperature got up to 79 degrees and the humidity ranged from 96 percent early in the day to 65 percent in the afternoon. The male winner that year was Italian Orlando Pizzolato – could a name be any more Italian than that…he won in 2:14:53 on a day the late great Grete Waitz won the women’s in 2:29:30.
So a first point that needs to be said… unfavourable weather Does make a difference.
You may say duh, like obvious…But I'm continuously surprised by runners who are genuinely puzzled and disheartened when they post slow times in races or training when the Hunmdex readings are in around 30 C
This which is why I encourage clients to log the weather conditions – temp, wind, and humidex on the day of their qualitative workouts and races.
So how exactly do I define unfavourable? And how much difference does it make ?
Well with respect to hot I Mid 70s to mid 80 Fahrenheit – or 24 to 29 Centigrade . be it temperature or humidex. The humidex reading is important – because the temperature could be 20 degrees but the humidity might make it feel like 28
Ok so let me share a few rules of thumb I use for 5 km. and longer
If the runner is heat acclimatized than performance will be slowed by about 5 %
For a 3 hour marathoner that would mean 9 minutes and for a 4 hour marathoner that would mean 12 minutes
And for those that are not heat acclimatized I assume about a 10% slow down – so that’s 18 minutes for the 3 hour marathoner and 24 minutes for the 4 hour marathoner.
So I suggest you use these guidelines to plan your pacing for a hot race or continuous training runs. …apply the factor and then start out at the slower pace to be safe……
Now let’s talk about the wind…. And I not talking about a hurricane force winds - I ‘m talking about wind that is quite noticeable and that you are having to lean in to it….
And for that sort of condition I also suggest a slow down effect of again about 5% when you are running in to the wind. So if in calm conditions you are averaging 5:00 per km., on a windy day you could be slowed as much as 15 seconds which is why you want to pick a giant to run behind for drafting purposes…makes a huge difference. Of course, in races that are on looped courses…there will be times when the wind is behind you…..
Another tip which is the same one I described in my July 15th Audio about hill running….when running in to the wind pay attention to your breathing and maybe your heart rate to guard against working too hard.
But having said all of that, there will be those who stubbornly try to maintain the pace without regard to the slow down effect and such an extra hard effort can result in disaster
One last tip. for those who are in to interval training around a track.
If the weather is unfavourable I suggest you lower your pace expectations by 3 to 4 seconds per 400m of the distance you are going…..so that would mean about 7 to 10 seconds per km. .. so, you start there and see how it goes.
Or if you still want the exposure to a certain speed extend the rest periods almost needed in order to avoid overheating maybe between each rep or after every few reps.
So if under favourable conditions you planned to do repeat kilometers with a 2:00 rest you might go…..you may want to extend the rest period to 3 to 4 minutes in order to allow you to hit the desired pace.
Ok so far I haven’t said anything about how one gets acclimatized …a topic on to itself.
Well, the ideal is to have 2ish weeks of regular – that’s regular training in the heat…certainly that’s rare for we Canadians ….and those who can only practically train in the early morning (outdoors when it’s cool) are at an disadvantage Wearing extra clothing and running on a treadmill can be a ploy… one of Canada’s better marathoners Bruce Deacon - he ran 2:13:18 in 2002 – I understand he ran on a treadmill in a heat chamber with temperatures as high as 40C heat
But here’s a good thing - once you are acclimatized -that is once the body has physiologically adapted to cooling the body……the changes – like sweating more readily remain for several weeks even though you may not be training in hot conditions.