I believe my performance/weather theory has finally been proven! It’s no secret that I prefer cooler temperatures when running, but over the last few months I have noticed a significant pattern developing. You see, it seems that my pace is significantly slower on hot and/or humid days, and much faster on cooler and/or drier days. I started paying closer attention to this pattern when I was able to easily complete a 6 mile training run on a cool evening at sub 10 min/mile pace instead of my usual 10:30+ min/mile pace for mid distance and long runs. I figured that the hot and humid summer weather was wreaking havoc with my goals to improve my pace, but I wasn’t 100% sure since I have also been working on figuring out my nutrition and hydration needs.
Over the last several weeks, Chicago has experienced a bit of a roller-coaster weather pattern. One week consists of hot and humid days and the next spring or fall like cooler and dryer days. In an attempt to prove to myself that a good majority of my recent slower paces are not due to laziness or missing speed work, but the toll the hot weather takes on my body, I was sure to keep my nutrition and hydration constant for my shorter runs (I still experimented with my long run fueling, but I think I have that nailed down now too). Looking back at my activity log, the runs completed on hot and humid days are so much slower than days when the high temperature for the day was in the low to mid 70’s with lesser humidity – usually anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 min slower per mile. My theory was finally proven when I completed a 3 mile training run Wednesday night last week (the high for the day was only 71ºF) at sub 10 min/mile pace…while sick as a dog. Though I regretted that run almost immediately, as I was left with a terrible cough to go with the horrible nasal congestion for days afterward, I knew I had to be a faster runner than my mid-summer times would indicate. How else could I run a sub 10 min/mile pace with a horrible sinus infection and not feel like I was going to die?! Here are my stats for that run:
Unfortunately I don’t have much to report as far as marathon training goes because I have been sick for the last week,. I felt like death warmed over on Monday and spent my Tuesday evening sitting in the waiting room of the local immediate care facility in an attempt to obtain antibiotics to kick the sinus infection to the curb. Besides, there is no way I felt even remotely good enough to run…my energy level was completely zapped. After a good night’s rest Tuesday night and feeling guilty for missing a day of training, I thought I felt good enough to get back onto my training schedule so I completed a 3 miler (mentioned above) on Wednesday. I was forced to take the remainder of the week off after pushing myself too hard too fast on though, leading to a nasty cough and even more misery for the rest of the week. Needless to say, I missed my 15 mile long run this week…something I promised myself I wouldn’t do. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to stick to my training plan 100%, but I knew that if 3 miles made me feel bad, 15 would just about take me out.
Finally, after feeling like a total sloth for a week, I decided I would head out for a slow and easy 3 miler on Sunday to test the waters. The run went well and I was able to easily complete it without having to stop, and I didn’t feel winded at all. I knew I could have pushed a lot harder but I was just starting to feel better and didn’t want to go backward again. My back was a little sore from sitting like a weirdo in a camp chair at the Buddy Guy / George Thorogood concert I went to Saturday night (the concert was AWESOME by the way!), and it started to scream at me for the last half mile of the run though. Note to self – don’t sit like a weirdo in a camp chair going forward. 🙂 Here are my stats for that run:
I was happy when I woke up Monday morning feeling even better than I did on Sunday. I am finally on the mend! This week holds a step up in mileage just about across the board. Monday (or Tuesday) will now consist of 4 miles, Tuesday (or Wednesday) will be 8 miles, Thursday will be another 4 miles and my long run will be 16 miles (yikes!). I’m really nervous about being able to get in all of the miles after taking a week off. I know a week isn’t a long time, but coming off of a step down week the week before, I’ll be going from 24 miles in a week to 32 miles…that’s a pretty big jump after a week of practically nothing. My plan of attack is to keep my pace slower this week and try not to push too hard and risk injuring myself. On top of the mileage increase, I’m still not feeling 100% better so I think a slower pace will help me all the way around this week. Last night I was able to complete my 4 miler easily and felt really good. Thankfully, the back pain has subsided so that wasn’t an issue at all. My breathing was nice and easy and my legs felt good. I’m sure the week of rest helped a lot with that! Here are the stats for last nights run:
I have an 8 miler on tap for tomorrow and the high is forecast to be in the 90’s. My plan is to bring my running gear with me to work so I can run on the treadmill if it does turn out to be that hot. If it is cooler than expected I will suck it up and run outside despite the heat. Either way, my plan is to keep with my slow and easy plan for the remainder of the week. On thing is for sure…I will have pasta for lunch tomorrow…yum! 🙂
Until next time…happy running everyone!