Warm Weather Pace Adjustments -> Don’t Fight It

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.


What I look like when I spot a sprinkler on a long run! =)

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.

1: 8:08
2: 7:49
3: 7:56
4: 7:37
5: 7:54
6: 7:52
7: 7:51
8: 7;54
9: 7:49
10: 8:02
11: 8:05
12: 8:18
13: 8:23
14: 7:40
15: 7:40
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.

1.  8:02
2. 7:49
3. 7:42
4. 7:21
5. 7:16
6. 7:20
7. 7:17
8. 7:17
9. 7:21
10. 7:20
11. 8:14
12. 8:08
13. 7:45
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:

pace adjustment

Once the pace adjustment % has been calculated, you can then see what that correlates to for your paces:

pace adjustment2So for last weekend’s run, my pace should have been adjusted by about 8-15 seconds, which puts the 7:19 average around 7:10 (well within the 7:00-7:15 range my coach gave me).


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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    12 thoughts on “Warm Weather Pace Adjustments -> Don’t Fight It

    1. Pingback: How to Adjusting Your Running for Humidity - Running Wife

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    4. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been struggling so much lately… It feels good to know I’m not the only one. It can be really frustrating at times.

    5. I am so glad you posted those charts! I remember seeing those another summer and have been meaning to look them up. It’s definitely been a struggle trying to hit some of my hard effort paces. I know the weather has everything to do with that right now.
      As far as getting water, I always get water on a long run (my theory is that I’m going to fuel during a marathon so I might as well be used to it). I add in one or two extra water stops during the summer- depending on how far I’m running. Going without is never worth dehydration/ delayed recovery in my book. With those temps it sounded like you definitely needed some too!

      And yes, I agree with everyone else- love that picture of you and your sister. Stunning!! : )

    6. this wogger is so so so seeing herself SLOOOW DOWN in the raging Texas heat too.
      and I LOVE the picture of you and your baby sister.
      mine is 44 and still a BABABABAY to me :-)
      CARLA recently posted..I exercise intuitively.My Profile

    7. Thank you for sharing that pace chart! I just checked our weather right now and it is 90 degrees with 64 dew point. I guess that explains why my normal easy pace last night was not so easy! I’m pinning this!
      Cecilia @ MommiesRun recently posted..Weekend Update .: 6 :.My Profile

    8. Thank you so much for those conversion charts! It doesn’t get too humid here in SoCal, but when life dictates that a run needs to be done closer to mid day and the temps are in the high 70’s/80’s and then sun is blazing, I’ll basically just ignore the watch and run based on how things are feeling. Love your dress btw!

    9. This is so spot on, and thank you for sharing the dew point conversion info. You’re going to have an amazing race in Alaska – can’t wait to follow along!

    10. I need to keep reminding myself of this!!! I am like you I think and overestimate my ability to handle the heat. I feel like I train in it so I should be able to race in it at almost the same pace. This is what happened to me Sat. I want to break 1:30, but I knew Sat wasn’t going to be the day. I thought I would go for 1:32-1:33, but looking at my splits I had a few 6:50 and even a 6:45 early on…BIG mistake. This resulted in some rough middle miles and a 1:40 finish. I know it was just really bad pacing on my part because 3 days later I ran 9 miles at 5 seconds per mile faster than my 1/2 marathon pace Sat…UGH! Just bad racing on my part and as much as I tell myself to start out slow…I just don’t seem to do it!
      I can’t wait for some of your Alaska pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVED them last year!!!!
      Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..The last 2 weeks….My Profile