During the long cold winter in Northern Virginia I eagerly yearned for spring and summer to arrive.
This week I wondered why I was looking forward to the warmer weather. Spring seems to come and go in two weeks in the DC area. Just when it warms up a tad, WHAM, the heat and humidity come on strong, making me wish for the cooler temperatures of fall long before the summer has even really began.
Thursday I started my run a tad after 8am and at that point it was already 84 degrees. Just for giggles I looked up the humidity and temperature for DC at the time I was out running.
Temperature: 81 degrees
When I started the run I knew there was no way I would make it through any more than 4 miles if I attempted to run at my typical pace. I allowed myself to adjust and though it felt just as hard as a faster pace would have, it was a bit slower. Slowing down helped me push through 6 miles again. Baby C slept the whole time and Miles was bribed into being happy by the promise of heading to a lake after to feed the ducks.
I wondered how much the humidity was affecting my performance. I was sweating more than I normally do, yet did not seem any cooler. My skin was soaked as if none of the sweat was evaporating.
According to wikipedia this is what happens to your body during times of high humidity.
‘The human body sheds heat by a combination of evaporation of perspiration, heat convection in the surrounding air, and thermal radiation. Under conditions of high humidity, the evaporation of sweat from the skin decreases, and the body’s efforts to maintain an acceptable body temperature may be significantly impaired. Also, if the atmosphere is as warm as or warmer than the skin during times of high humidity, blood brought to the body surface cannot shed heat by conduction to the air, and a condition called hyperpyrexia results. With so much blood going to the external surface of the body, relatively less goes to the active muscles, the brain, and other internal organs. Physical strength declines, and fatigue occurs sooner than it would otherwise. Alertness and mental capacity also may be affected, resulting in heat stroke or hyperthermia.’
With this knowledge in mind I do not feel bad about slowing down one bit. I make it a habit to run a lot of my runs on perceived exertion. Running this way means at times my pace will be slower than my optimal training pace, or a tad faster if the weather is nice and I am feeling the good.
This week I have only run on feel. The runs were hard. Some of them felt harder than marathons I have run.
That which does not kill me, makes me stronger – right?! These runs prepare me for hard races.
Do you live in the DC area? Have you been running or working out in this terrible heat and humidity?