Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weather Adjusted Running

Received a few questions on the Running in Hot Weather Blog. Since this is a concept that is rather neglected in running books and magazines, I thought best to give it more explanation.

Let's recap with my weather adjusted formula with humidity thrown in: "Pace Per Mile = 1+(Temperature – 60) + (Humidity – 50)% x Planned Pace"

Let's use an example. A runner that wants to run an 8:20 Pace Per mile in 75 degree heat and 75% Humidity would adjust his running time by the following calculation: 1 + ((75-60) + (75-50 x .1))% =1.175 x 500 (Pace in seconds) = 1.175 x 500 = 587.5 Pace Per Mile (or 9:48 MPM).

First, a disclaimer. I am not saying that it's time to pitch your heart rate monitors in the trash bin and replace it with this new adjustment for running. I am still in the camp that believes that HRM (Heart Rate Monitors) are the best technology device to assist runners in the past 20 years. That said I don't believe you should blindly follow any device, as we all have had HRMs that get affected by other wireless devices, battery strength, or syncing issues with the reader of the device.

I offer this Weather Adjustment as another tool in your arsenal for the sole purpose of my running column - - - that is, to keep you running.

If you are new to running, or even if you are a veteran, there are days that you feel like the run is twice as hard as others with no explanation. One reader was astounded at what I wrote with the question: "Are you saying that by running a 10 minute mile run as a training run during on hot, humid day during the summer, I can still realize a sub 1:45 hour Half Marathon in the fall?" That's exactly what I'm saying.

Let's break down what I'm getting at. I ran in 75 degree heat with 75% Humidity yesterday morning. When I looked at what I had to do for a training run, it was a 9 minute, 25 second pace per mile. Following my weather adjusted calculation; I set my training monitor to pace me at 11:04 pace per mile. Now, granted, the first mile this seemed almost turtle like, but by mile 5-6, I was feeling it, and my HRM was given me a reading like I was doing a 9:25 MPM.

So, why don't the running books push this concept more? For the life of me, I don't know why. Again, we are all an experiment of one, but I think everyone can benefit from this knowledge and use it in their training. Most running books have a section, maybe a chapter on it, but it's usually limited to giving you the warning not to run in that type of weather. Its good advice, but some runners that live in the south or in high humid areas don't have that option.

Remember that when you take on training for a time goal for a race, the recommended pacing time goals you are given are for certain ideal conditions. No coach worth his or her salt would ever expect their runner to do the same 8:20 pace per mile in 55 or 85 degree heat. By using the Weather Adjustment, you can still feel you have put in the same level of effort as running the 8:20 pace per mile as in perfect indoor conditions.

This adjustment becomes very apparent when the fall weather starts to go south. When you find the temperature drops below 60 degrees and/or humidity dropping to 50%, the 8:20 pace will still be challenging, but at least not unbearable. You will be glad that you didn't give up on your dream of running a sub 8 minute mile in the Half Marathon just because of the hot weather training runs that you had to do during the summer months.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I appreciate this article quite a bit, though I think when you wrote out the formula, some parentheses are missing. 

This is what is written:
 "Pace Per Mile = 1+(Temperature – 60) + (Humidity – 50)% x Planned Pace"

This is what I think it should be:
 "Pace Per Mile = (1+((Temperature – 60) + ((Humidity – 50)x0.1)%)) x Planned Pace"
where by % it means "x 0.01"

Thanks again for a good piece! I had a hot run today and this helped me figure out a "true" pace for the run. 
 ~ Matt V

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