Losing Time, Getting Hot

I seem to have misplaced an hour. Which is never a good thing on the night before work. Less sleep always sucks, especially when you stay up forgetting that daylight savings is about to start. Yes that's right, it is now daylight savings. This means the clock were put forward an hour leading to more sunshine in the evening and less light around my usual waking time.

To mark the official celebration of sunlight the temperature has also decided to rise. It was a warm one last night. Already 24 degrees when I woke up for an easy run. This had me thinking about the Shepparton Half Ironman coming up.

Traditionally the race has been held in hot conditions, often over 30 degrees. The first year saw it reach about 37. While it is now a couple of weeks earlier, there is still potential for a hot day around the fruit orchards. This got me thinking about race performance in the heat. It is generally well accepted that racing in hot conditions leads to slower times, but what temperature does this kick in? A recent study looking at the impact of environmental temperature on marathon running performance made a very thorough and wide ranging analysis of a number of mass participation marathons (Ely,et al. 2007). In their research they compared collective times on the same courses in different years, plus compared individual runners performance. From this they came to a simple, but important conclusion.

There is a progressive slowing of marathon performance as the Wet Bulb
Globe Temperature increases from 5 to 25 degrees Celsius.

Because this study involved a both male and female runners from the top place getters down to 300th place finishers, this conclusion seems valid across the board. Simply put, the hotter it is, the slower your performance is likely to be. Does this mean a worse performance? Only if you are concerned about hitting a certain time. For me, I'm looking forward to the heat. In the past I feel as though I don't slow down quite as much as other people around my level. I've been able to hold some good races together until the finish line. The problems have occurred afterwards.

Its now time to start thinking of my strategy. It will include some heat acclimation work and race day cooling. Exactly what this will entail I'll have to think about it some more, and review what has worked in the past.

MR Ely, SN Cheuvront, WO Roberts, SJ Montain (2007) Impact of Weather on Marathon-Running Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 39:3. 487-493.


  1. Coming from the cool weather of Seattle, I used to fully fear heat. But after moving to the hot and humid spring/summer/falls of Washington DC - I've gotten used to the 90-100* days. It's also helped me to perform better in both hotter weather, and cooler weather.

    As you noted, really the only way to do well in the heat is to train in the heat. They say it takes two weeks to 'aclimate', but I think it's probably a lot longer than that. That along with a very solid hydration stategy. I've found that doing one cup of water over my head at each water station has done wonders during hot weather. It's amazing the difference is makes.

  2. That's amazing. I would have guessed no change until 10 or 12C. If you do well in the heat and aren't after a time, you should have a good race.

    I heard recently that keeping the palms cool (by holding ice) helps. Not sure how you'd do that in a long race though.

  3. I put the clocks forward before bed in an attempt to trick myself into not missing though hour, unfortunately I am not that easily fooled.

    Although I have mocked Queenslanders over the years I have am starting to come around their way of thinking. I am a morning person and I have really enjoyed the extra light in the AM.

  4. The Science of Sport Blog has some interesting postings found from their thermoregulation tag: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 plus a few other articles here and here.


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