Beat the heat

“We’ve got a motto here – you’re tougher than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” - Ken Chlouber, founder of Leadville Trail 100, in Born to Run.

The weather this week is perfect, especially for us who love summer and spending time at the lakes. But daytime temps aren’t ideal for running, particularly distances like the half and full marathon.

With less than 48 hours to the start of the Fargo Marathon, I’m going to focus more on the weather since it’s a topic on virtually every runners’ mind.

The National Weather Service is calling for a high of 85 on Saturday, but I’m digging a little deeper into the forecast. The weather service also is calling for mostly cloudy skies Friday night, and a 30 percent chance of showers on Saturday. You won’t hear me calling for clouds very often, but I’m hoping that’s exactly what we’ll see on race morning. And I’m really hoping some residents living on the course turn on sprinklers for runners to pass through.

Here are the predicted temperatures on Saturday. As of this posting, the hourly forecast doesn’t extend past noon.

7 a.m. – 57 (start of the 10K, 30 minutes before start of half marathon)

8 a.m. – 61 (start of the full marathon)

9 a.m. – 65

10 a.m. – 70

11 a.m. – 74

Noon – 77

For today’s post, I went back to the book that I consider as my running bible, “The Competitive Runner’s Handbook,” by Bob and Shelly-lynn Glover. Beyond urging runners to adjust their pace and goal times, staying properly hydrated, running in the shade as much as possible and focusing on staying mentally positive, here is their explanation on how higher temperatures effect running:

“The combination of heat exposure and running causes a serious challenge. A dual role develops for the blood: It must cool the body by transporting heat to the skin’s surface, and supply oxygen and fuel to working muscles. … In hot weather, when body-cooling blood is pumped to the skin, less blood flows back to the heart. Each heartbeat pumps out lessblood than in cooler weather and the heart compensates by beating faster to keep up with the needs of the body. Blood volume is reduced even further when you dehydrate. … Heat further sabotages running times by increasing the rate of glycogen depletion and lactae buildup in the muscles. The result of these excessive demands is discomfort, a greater subjective sensation of effort, and impaired performance.”

That’s a lot to digest, but I’m including it in hopes of reinforcing the common sense wisdom that tells us to not go out too fast on Saturday. If you’re highly trained, then perhaps you can get away with straddling the red line and pushing the pace in the half or full marathon. Otherwise, most runners should seriously consider adjusting the pace and focus on enjoying all of their accomplishments – from months of grueling training to completing their event.

Eat well today and Friday. Get extra sleep tonight. Relax and think about all the hard work that’s gone into completing the next step in your journey. From now until you cross the finish line, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishments in training, enjoying the race atmosphere and embracing what makes running so powerful – reassurance that we are alive. And along the way, if we can say or do something to bring a smile to someone’s face, it will have been worth all the effort, regardless of a number on the race clock.

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