Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's the Heat

Several runs of recent start at ~6:45/mile for 3.5M and then fade to finish at 8:30 leaving me exhausted. Runners World recently wrote one should add 20-30 seconds/mile for every 5 degrees above 60 degrees.

It's 12 days until I race to beat my old marathon course record Around the Lake. Will the heat be a factor? What can be done about it?


  1. Summer Racing – How to Beat the Heat
    July 13, 2010

    By Terrence Mahon

    Summer is a great time to step on the starting line and test your fitness. Road races abound from Coast to Coast and you shouldn’t have to go too far to find a race. Typically we see shorter distance events at this time of year, usually ranging from 5k to 15k because the weather is more conducive to these distances than with the longer events. However, even in the shorter races heat and humidity can slow you down. The best way to set yourself up for a good race is to have a plan put together to deal with the conditions. Here are a few tips that we will be using with Ryan as he prepares for the US 7 mile championships at the Quad Cities Bix 7 race in Iowa later this month.

    1. Get a Scouting Report. Check out the weather for where you will be racing. You want to know the estimated heat and humidity for the time and day that you will be racing. Also, check for the possibility of a summer storm as that may require you to wear different shoes that have better traction than your everyday trainers. Excessive heat and humidity may slow you down as much as 10-15seconds per mile so it is good to know ahead of time and plan accordingly.

    2. Know the Course. If possible, it is great to get in a run on the course. Even better would be to get in a workout on some of the tougher sections of the course. However, for most of us that travel to races this is not always conducive. The pros will drive the course on the day before their race just to get the visuals in their head so they can prepare mentally for what they need to execute on race day. Course maps and elevation charts are pretty standard on race websites these days. Take a moment to check them out so you know what to expect in regard to hills, turns, long straight-aways, etc.

    3. Adjust Your Pace. The trickiest part of racing on a road course as opposed to on a track is that each road course is unique. Pacing yourself over the course to make sure that you don’t go too fast or slow in the beginning is part art and part skill. Your best plan is to keep a constant effort throughout the race. This will mean your splits on up-hills will be slower than the flats and the down-hills should be faster. Maintaining a good running economy will allow you to run your best even though the mile splits may vary as much as 20 seconds from one to the next. As long as you are keeping your effort constant you will have energy for a strong finishing kick.

    4. Keep Your Core Temperature Down. The greatest factor that leads to success in a hot & humid race is being able to keep your core temperature as close to normal as possible. Overheating is a huge problem in the summer and leads to slower race times. Keep your cool by cutting your warm up in half and drinking plenty of cool fluids prior to the race on hot days. Once the race starts, have a plan of drinking 4-6 oz of water or sports drink every 15 minutes. It is also prudent to start slower at the beginning of the race. The excitement of the race can have you revving up too quickly if you don’t make a mental note beforehand. Starting slower will delay your core temperature from rising too quickly and will allow you to sustain your pace longer into the race.

    5. Make New Race Goals. Since summer races aren’t usually the best scenarios for chasing personal best times you must create new goals to stay engaged in the race. If you have run a race before and are returning back to it this year then compare it to the last time you did the event. Another effective method is to create what we call “seasonal personal bests”. These can range from what your personal best time is in the month of July, what your best time is in weather over 80 degrees, what your best time is in humidity above 70%, your best time in the rain and so on. It is important to keep a solid perspective. By doing this you will get a better feel for what an attainable goal is for your upcoming race and it will make the experience that much more fulfilling.

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  6. Thanks Rick an excellent article from a really good coach. I think #4 and #5 are of high value going into this marathon.

  7. So what were the race conditions like when you set your course PR? The heat and humidity can be deadly!

  8. typically hot & humid, add darkness to make interesting