Acclimating to Heat and Humidity: Coach Gale’s notes

Continuing on our theme of Heat and Humidity, I looked up a 2 part article that Coach Gale Bernhardt had written on acclimating to the hot and humid environment…a worthy read.

Our picture today on what to do if it doesn’t work…

Part 1 on how the body tries to regulate itself, and Heat risk factors:

Part 2 on what to do about it:

In reading this again, I’m reminded that there has always been quite a bit of discussion on how heat slows down your pace…Gale quotes Jeff Galloway‘s useful chart…to which he adds “* Note: This chart is based upon my own experience in the heat and talking to other runners. It has no scientific verification”…although similar to other stuff that I’ve read…which shows that it doesn’t really take much heat to slow things down:

 In his example, he estimates that if you are an 8-minute-per-mile runner your pace will slow according to this chart:
55-60 degrees: 1% – 8:05
60-65 degrees: 3% – 8:15
65-70 degrees: 5% – 8:25
70-75 degrees: 7% – 8:35
75-80 degrees: 12% – 8:58
80-85 degrees: 20% – 9:35
Above 85 degrees: Forget it… run for fun

When he says ‘you’ll slow down’, what he’s really saying can be looked at a few ways, and goes to my point in yesterday’s post about running by Pace vs Heart Rate or RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)…only if you want to get faster 🙂

Here are some practical ideas that I take from Jeff’s data:

  • If your planned race pace all out for a particular race on a particular day is 8:00/mile, and it’s 80-85F on race day, plan to run closer to a 9:35/mile pace, since your body, sending energy to cooling, is going to give your muscles about 20% less…
  • and therefore, also, if your race ‘results’ on a particular hot day are slower, then don’t be bummed out 🙂
  • If your training pace on a cool day is 8:00/mile, expect that your Heart Rate and RPE will be the same at a 9:35/mile pace on a 80-85F day
  • so in other words, if you’re at your maximum Heart Rate and RPE at an 8:00/mile pace on a cool day for a particular distance, you’re going to be maxed out to the same numbers at a 9:35/mile pace on a 80-85F degrees

And the BIG therefore is that if your training workout is supposed to be done at a 8:00/mile pace based on testing/running on cool days, you’re just not going to able to run that fast at 80-85F

…and if you go slogging along at a slower pace because your body is simply giving your muscles less energy to work with, your muscles are just not going to get faster just because it ‘feels’ hard.

Of course the ‘acclimating’ part, is that if you want reduce the amount of speed/performance drop-off that you have from the heat, you have to run in the heat, to encourage your body to adapt by becoming more efficient at cooling your body…Coach Gale makes the point that 95% of adaptation takes place in the first 10 days of heat exposure.

So if your ‘A’ races are ‘hot’ then you still have to spend time training in the heat…if your race is cooler, like Ironman Florida…take it indoors, and run cool and fast when it’s really hot outside…well at least that’s my plan 🙂

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