Running Under The Heat: Slow Dynamics

Running Under The Heat when it’s boiling out there, much too sweltering to be pleasant, yet not so hot that it’s hazardous to jog – if you take it easy. What proportion of the decrease in pace is due to the high temperature and what proportion is because you’re not pushing yourself hard enough? Can you provide an idea of how much you should adjust to having a positive running or workout experience?

If you watched the U.S. At the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, with temperatures skyrocketing and the track being so warm that you could practically fry an omelette on it, clearly it was possible to achieve a very quick time despite the burning heat.

Eventually, Sydney McLaughlin achieved a world record in the 400m hurdles. Athing Mu, a star at the 800-meter race, delivered the second-quickest performance in United States history.

Still, this doesn’t mean that one ought to or can exercise the same way in a hot climate as in cooler temperatures. In conclusion, McLaughlin’s and Mu’s races were finished much more quickly than it does to purchase an espresso and quicker than most people take for one lap of a recovery run.

Samuel Cheuvront, an exercise physiologist from Norwood, Massachusetts specializing in heat tolerance, has iterated that most Olympic Trials miler runners would have been unlikely to become unwell from being exposed to the sun for too long unless they had already been too hot before the race began.

It was evident that these individuals were producing heat more quickly than they could release it, however before the amount became noticeable, their running races were already complete. Training is different. An elite 1500m is over in about 4 minutes. Nobody does a 4-minute training session.

Significantly Slower

Sadly, there is not a great deal of research about adapting exercise to warmer temperatures. A great deal of writing that focuses on different races revolves around marathons. Nevertheless, there’s still education to be found in it for teaching.

The foremost research on the topic comes from the 2007 paper on Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise by Matthew Ely and his fellows, who were based in the United States at the time. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts.

Ely and Cheuvront looked over many years of completion times of seven marathon race events located in North America (Boston, New York, Twin Cities, Grandma’s, Richmond, Hartford, and Vancouver) to determine how the climate conditions would influence the performance of not only the leading runners, but also those placed 25th, 50th, 100th, and 300th.

They analyzed running speed using the wet bulb globe temperature measure of heat stress, which is different from air temperature. When the WBGT surpassed 40°F, they observed a gradual decrease in the fastest times for men’s races.

Heartrate and Perceived Exertion

Exercising in hot weather has numerous effects on the body.

A crucial element is that the flow of blood is rerouted to the surface of the skin, allowing for easier heat dispersion. According to Cheuvront, the heart rate goes up due to the demand of providing blood to both muscles and skin.

The longer you exercise in hot weather, the faster your heart rate will be, especially if dehydration has reduced the amount of blood in your body, meaning that your heart needs to work even harder to move it around. Cheuvront emphasizes that the effectiveness of exercising goes beyond how strenuous the workout is, but also depends on the duration of the activity.

It is significant because studies have shown that the amount of effort sensed relates directly to one’s heartbeat. Cheuvront asserts that physical activity seems more difficult when done in hot weather than when the temperature is cooler.

In addition to that, when your bloodstream is directed to your skin, the oxygen it contains is not accessible to the muscles. It’s like exercising in a place with a higher elevation, so much so that various studies have evaluated using warmth conditioning as an alternative to altitude conditioning.

Putting it Into Practice

That’s the science. Applying it is more complex.

A potential method to employ is to wear a heart monitor and exercise with the same beating rate one would aim for in colder temperatures. By doing that, you let your pulse determine how fast you go instead of your watch.

One more way to go about it is utilizing a heat-related number cruncher, such as the one present on the website of the Run S.M.A.R.T. coaching venture, headed by Jack Daniels, creator of Daniels’ Running Formula.

It anticipates the influence of temperature on race times of any distance (including 1500m). For practice, this could be employed as a practical way to measure your speed for running events like a 5K, 10K, or marathon depending on the intensity of your competition.

It should be noted, however, that certain limitations come with it, the most noteworthy being that it seems to provide the same output regardless of the distance.

For example, at a temperature of 77°F, a 6 minutes-per-mile runner would experience the same slowdown of 10 seconds every mile regardless of whether they’re running a marathon or a 1,500m. This is not correct.

Take this as a broad estimate, which is the most accurate representation when taking into account each person’s ability to handle and become used to the heat.

Rather than training slower in the heat, my group prefers to reduce the duration of each interval and increase the length of breaks between them.

We may deviate from our normal route by heading down a shaded road to perform hill sprints that range in length from 100 meters to 400 meters with a maximum amount of energy, even though the temperature is moderate while ensuring we spend an adequate amount of time recovering between sets to stop our body heat from increasing.

Going to a spot with shade can be advantageous since the air temperature can be deceptive. This brings us back to the wet bulb globe temperature.

It is likely that WBGT (wet bulb globe temperature) is the most reliable technique for gauging the overall impacts of air temperature, humidity, and strong sunlight. You cannot gauge this on your own, except if you expend a substantial amount of money on a specially-made thermometer.

Moreover, the figures the calculator provides do not correspond directly to atmosphere temperature, which is why the output from the S.M.A.R.T. calculator and Ely’s findings are hugely different when compared. It is well known that humidity and the amount of sunlight are both significant factors.

According to Cheuvront, it’s smarter to focus not on the air temperature by itself, but on “heat stress”, which arises from things such as temperature, humidity, or direct rays of sunlight.

Easy Days Easy, Hard Days Hard

Likely, your regular running speed falls somewhere between comfortably easy and extreme fatigue.

That is the dividing line between exercises that can be performed for an extended period and those that can only be carried out for a brief period without oxygen. Many coaches think that the pace that feels right to you sits in the middle ground between two activities, making it a sort of neutral area.

Though there are certainly benefits from exercising in any way, the different training benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise come more easily when concentrating on one type per workout.

The saying goes that you should take it easy on easy days and push yourself on strenuous days. This implies that you should do the majority of your miles at slow speeds, mixing in a few demanding and intimidating exercises (we’ll explain that further later).

Coach Kastor of the Mammoth Track Club in California claims that their top marathoners mostly train within the aerobic area, doing 85-90 per cent of the work.

As per Elite Athlete Coach Pete Rea, the On Zap Endurance team, situated in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, US, typically have 75-78% of their athletes’ weekly workload at slower than their desired marathon tempo.

How slow should you go

What is the ideal speed to maintain for your aerobic exercise routine? An effective strategy for keeping yourself in the aerobic range when running is to ensure your heart rate remains under 80% of your maximum.

Nowadays, most smartwatches can do the necessary calculations to define your heart rate zones, but if you have a heart rate monitor, you can figure out the calculations for yourself.

To work out your maximum heart rate, calculate 220 minus your age. For example, the maximum heart rate for a 30-year-old individual would be calculated by subtracting 30 from 220, giving a total of 190 beats per minute.

It is hard to use the HR zones when determining pacing advice, however, as a guide, you should generally go no faster than 90 seconds per mile (56 seconds per kilometre) slower than what you are aiming for in an event.

Luke Humphrey, coach of non-elite athletes, advocates the use of Hanson’s Marathon Method with a running pace of 1:30-2:30 minutes per mile (or 1:00-1:30 minutes per kilometre) slower than what is desired for the finish line.

At the rapid pace of this range, you would be in Human Resources zones 2-3. You’ll remain in HR zones 1 and 2 if you work at a slow pace.

It is essential to prevent pushing yourself to the point where the anaerobic heart rate in zone 4 is exceeded, but it can be beneficial to change the pace of your aerobic runs.

The next day after completing an intense aerobic activity, exercising in Level 1 and 2 intensities is beneficial for your body’s recovery. On days when you are feeling fit, doing some Zone 3 running is sure to be beneficial.

Going into the lower Region 4 isn’t the preferred option – it’s a good idea to use intense, anaerobic activity only for challenging exercises where you will be solidly in Zone 4, and perhaps for a short time in Zone 5.

If you want to work out the speeds you should aim to keep while training, Hanson’s Method Calculator can be helpful.

The amount of aerobic running you do and how far you do it depends on the objectives you have, however, a great suggestion is offered by the expert trainers stated above. The trainers in charge of the marathon runners allocate up to 90% of the exercise regimen to be aerobic.

It’s important to mention that while this advice wouldn’t be suitable for sprinters, anyone intending to run a distance greater than 5 km can benefit immensely from this approach.

For longer goal distances, it is recommended to incorporate longer endurance runs into your training plan.

By Hanson’s Marathon Method, no more than two anaerobic exercises should be done per week, and at least one day should be allocated to either taking a break altogether or doing low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming.

The Benefits of Aerobic Training

If you’re new to aerobic training which requires your attention, it may appear too good to be true that slower paces should be your priority. If you’re accustomed to running without looking at your heart rate, it’s probably difficult for you to remain in the lower heart rate ranges, and you’ll be inclined to go faster.

Bart Aernouts, the runner-up in the 2018 Ironman World Championships, pointed out to On HQ that a gradual pace can’t be considered “too slow” but it can certainly be deemed “too fast”. He usually runs at a pace that varies from 6:54/mile (4:17/km) to 8:03/mile (5:00/km).

You may not be the fastest runner compared to others, but your running pace isn’t too far behind. That said, not many can claim to be one of only two people to cross the finish line at the Kona Ironman within 8 hours, running a marathon at 2:45:41 with a 6:19 minute/mile average, following a 2.4-mile swim and a gruelling 112-mile ride through intense Hawaiian weather. If that is what is happening, it’s time to take a step back.

Bart believes that accomplishing tasks gradually rather than putting in a lot of effort all at once will pay off in the end (with an emphasis on the literal definition).

Some people may be exercising with more vigour frequently, but they are also prone to increased injury. Whilst they are on the mend, Bart is still going through his exercises, which is amplifying the amount of work done in total.

Hence, that’s just the beginning of the plethora of advantages that should motivate you to start making slower runs a routine exercise.

Coach Andrew Kastor states that when exercising at the aerobically trained level, the fat-burning potential is maximized. The utilization of body fat during running is vital for finishing a marathon with the aim of speed.

This means that it helps you to have increased stamina so that you can cope with the demanding process of preparing for a marathon. Finally, it provides an opportunity for athletes to let go of their stress and take pleasure in the activity.

However, according to Coach Pete Rea, while better endurance training can be accomplished through slower running, it is not the only factor.

Running that is not as difficult enables athletes to rest from hard training sessions, thereby reinforcing the connective tissues and increasing the number of capillaries that are formed during their preparation. From a psychological perspective, steady aerobic running can help marathon runners to feel revitalized between the more challenging, targeted workouts.


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