The summer heat and humidity has arrived in the northeast and running has been a hot, sticky mess lately.
I always seem to start out overly confident of my ability to run through the humid weather each year and I try to fight it. And it usually takes only one long run to knock me upside the head and remind me of how much control the weather has over my pace.
I did an easy paced 15 miler two weekends ago. It was my longest run post-Boston – and the heat and humidity chewed me up. If I’m being honest, it was one of those runs where I knew that I should slow down – I could feel the stickiness in the air and knew that the pace I was running would not be sustainable. The pace felt easy and manageable early on, but I had that little voice in my head telling me to just slow down and take it a bit easier. But I held on to that little bit of hope that today, THIS day, would be different and that the voice in my head was wrong. It wasn’t.
I didn’t start the run until 8am. It was already almost 80, humid and sunny. Not ideal but life comes first – we were up late with the boys at a neighbor’s bbq and I had no desire to get up before it was necessary. I also thought that I would be able to get the 15 miles in with no water. Not smart. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago in this post, this would be no issue during the winter, but I sweat too much during the summer for me to even make it past 12 miles without water.
My plan was to do a double out and back loop. I wanted to hit this series of hills (about 2 miles from my home) twice. I’m running the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half Marathon in two weeks when we travel to Alaska and it has over 1,600 feet of gain. So I felt a really hilly 15 miler would be a great prep for the course.
I made it through the first loop (8 miles) and felt good. But things started to head south shortly after and I had to turn around to head home for some water by mile 10. The next few miles were survival mode to just keep moving. I managed a quicker last two miles (wanted to end on a happy note) but those middle few miles were painful.
15 miles: 7:56 average
This past weekend was a 13 miler with 7 uptempo in the middle. Again, I didn’t start until later (9am this weekend). The temps were a touch lower (upper 60s) so it felt cooler, but once you stepped outside, you could feel how heavy the air was.
My goal was 7:00-7:15 for the middle 7 miles, but after a couple miles warmup/easy running, I could tell that was not going to be feasible. I was working too hard for high 7s at the start of the run. So I decided to run on effort. I know what a long tempo should feel like (regardless of pace) and so I just found that level of uncomfortableness and stayed there for the 7 miles. I was ~4 seconds slower than the slower end of my coach’s range, but given the temps and dew point, it actually was well within the range.
13 miles: 7:37 average
Two long runs – both in higher temps and dew point levels – but they were night and day runs with totally different outcomes. I could have gone for the range my coach gave me and I would have probably gotten a few miles in at that pace – and then blown up and struggled to even finish the 13 miles. Instead, I ran a bit slower than the target range, but stayed consistent (5 second difference between the fastest and slowest mile) from start to finish. This weekend’s run was a success – and the only reason is that I didn’t force the pace. I let my body figure out what felt right for the type of run I was aiming for.
Effort is first. Pace is secondary.
If you are dealing with the higher humidity and temps, you may want to become familiar with the adjustments you will want to make. My coach has a really useful (and in my opinion accurate!) chart that shows warm weather adjustments to pace. From his website:
Since dew point is the best measure of the water saturation of the air and thus its effect on our body while we run, I am recommending using it (rather than relative humidity), in conjunction with air temperatures, in determining warm weather pace adjustments to training.
Basically, you add together the temperature and dewpoint and see what sort of pace adjustment should be made:
Once the pace adjustment % has been calculated, you can then see what that correlates to for your paces:
Hope you had a great weekend! We had my youngest sister’s bridal shower on Sunday – she looked absolutely GORGEOUS (I loved her dress!). It’s both exciting and sad that my baby sister is getting married!! Three months to the big day!
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