Saturday, June 25, 2011

Temperature + Humidity + Wind + Sun; Warm-up?

On this morning's Kenyan Way training run I bonked beginning in the seventh mile, which with the benefit of hindsight was entirely avoidable. What misled me in deciding my target pace was the forecast starting temperature and dew point being 82°F and 74°F, both exactly the same as last Saturday's successful long run. The key difference, however, was today's absence of a breeze (versus last Saturday's average 11 mph wind with gusts up to 18 mph) and the cloudless sky.

In my experience the humidity - more-so than temperature - played the biggest part in my prior melt downs, leading me to frequently parrot the line I've heard from wise old-time runners: "Humidity - not temperature - is the silent killer." While true, the absence of wind and the strength of the sun are also key in determining the exogenous heat transferred to your body, and thus your ability to run at a given pace.

Sadly, the four key factors which determine the rate of heat transferred to the runner's body: temperature, humidity, wind, and sun, are probably too complex in their individual interplay to allow one to confidently assess one's optimum pace. Fortunately, however, we're all equipped with our highly evolved brains, which, presuming we utilize same - and don't become 'slaves' to the Garmin Forerunner around our wrists - should allow us to continuously adjust our pace throughout our run as necessary. Through continuously adjusting our pace via our perceived level of exertion we simultaneously adjust for the heat which is stressing our bodies, as well as elevation changes, our extent of fatigue, dynamic course conditions, etc.. I hope the this lesson re-learned will pay-off on my next warm-weather run: Don't be so mechanical in using my target pace to over-ride my common sense!

On another running-related topic, earlier this week I read with interest a good NY Times article discussing whether one should stretch statically in advance of one's run. Personally I only use static stretching after my run (the efficacy of which was unfortunately not studied). Also not explored in the article are the benefits of dynamic (vs. static) warm-up techniques.

My curiosity thus piqued on my morning's routine iPad perusal of running related articles (thanks Zite!) I stumbled on an interesting article, which included two recommended warm-up routines from Coach Jay Johnson. These look very interesting and I intend to try them out. Thoughts?

Finally, a link to my ever growing inspirational running quotes and mantras.


  1. Bonking at mile 7 is brutal. Only in Houston. It's definitely alot more factors to worry about. My run today was about 62 deg with 50% humidity.

    Those stretches were cool. What struck me was how beautiful the setting was. That's gotta be Univ of Colorado, eh? Gorgeous.

  2. Here's an article I wrote about stretching a while back:

  3. I think everybody has an opinion on stretching and when. I typically only do "looseners" prior to a run.

  4. I can completely relate here in Austin, TX. Summer has been hotter than usual so far and it can be a real struggle to get in the longer runs. Looking at my pace afterwards can be depressing, but I'd rather be running than not!