Yowza - sweet summertime ... or summertime sufferfest?
Summer training is HARD, Squad! I can't count how many conversations I have per week (including with myself) about the effects of the weather on performance and training. Heat, humidity, and UV index all play a role in how your body feels and performs - and the reality is, your body has to work harder in the summer to cool itself down than it does it cooler weather!
When you move, your muscles generate heat. In cool weather, that's a great thing - we can run safely and efficiently in single-digit temperatures and be just fine! But that heat really works against us when we're also battling warm outdoor conditions.
In order to cool, your body pulls bloodflow away from your muscles and toward the surface of your skin to help release heat. It also works to produce sweat, as an evaporative cooling technique (that works best in drier air and with air flow to allow it to evaporate). I'll avoid taking a deep dive into the physiology - but the air temperature and dew point have a very real and significant effect.
It's not YOU. It's not your FITNESS. The effects of the weather are real and measurable!
You should notice that while I do still enter pace goals in your training log, I'm also entering an "effort range". The weather changes every day and throughout the day, so the IDEAL way to train through the summer is to focus on EFFORT, instead of the pace numbers. Quite often at this time of year, pushing to hit an exact pace, within your normal fitness, could be over-reaching the purpose of the workout.
To help give you a sense of what to expect from your workout on a given day, we can take a look at the current "heat score" before you go run. We calculate this as:
Air Temperature + Dew Point = Heat Score
And from there, you can get an idea of how to adjust your pacing for the conditions.
100 or less: no pace adjustment
101 to 110: 0% to 0.5% pace adjustment
111 to 120: 0.5% to 1.0% pace adjustment
121 to 130: 1.0% to 2.0% pace adjustment
131 to 140: 2.0% to 3.0% pace adjustment
141 to 150: 3.0% to 4.5% pace adjustment
151 to 160: 4.5% to 6.0% pace adjustment
161 to 170: 6.0% to 8.0% pace adjustment
171 to 180: 8.0% to 10.0% pace adjustment
Above 180: hard running not recommended
The charts below are credited to Mark Hadley, and can be saved to help quick-calculate heat score and pace adjustment.
You can see that under the worst, runnable, conditions - you're looking at almost a minute per mile slower for the SAME effort. Again - I think it's REALLY important to not get bogged down with the number calculations - use these as a reference rather than an absolute. Every person is different, based on size, body composition, fitness, acclimation, hydration, and fueling. For that reason, it really is ideal to focus on EFFORT instead, and stay honest to the effort range prescribed! Don't push an 85% effort to 99% just to hit the pace! That's how we overtrain, overreach, or get ourselves into danger.
Trust that you ARE gaining fitness, and on the first cool day, you're going to see it. Fall PRs are made in the summer - trust the process. Trust that your body knows what it's doing to stay healthy and safe. And remember to STAY HYDRATED with ELECTROLYTES, look for shade, run in the coolest parts of the day, and use water and ice to keep your body temperature down.
We can do this, Winter will be here before we know it!