Anyone else been struggling to run in the stifling morning humidity currently blanketing our region? Oh. My. Goodness. At first I thought I’d just eaten too many fruit mince pies and had too many morning sleep-ins. Perhaps I was just a little dusty after Christmas.
Each time I run, my heart rate seems unusually high for the pedestrian speed I’m struggling to maintain. My chest hurts. I feel like I’m breathing through a wet blanket. As the run goes on, the km pace continues to slow. Trying to maintain some sort of respectable speed feels like all-out racing. Not to mention the sweat. Pouring out in such vast quantities it’s hard to replace and can leave me feeling like the pale and brittle shell of a super dooper ice block, sucked of all the good stuff.
It’s quite deflating. So I started doing some reading (because I didn’t want to believe my running was that bad for no reason) and it turns out the effects of humidity on performance is a thing. Phew!
The body loses heat via sweat, which carries heat to the skin to evaporate. However, evaporation can only occur if the surrounding air is free of water or dry. When humidity rises to 75% it’s almost impossible for evaporation to occur and so the body will only loose a small amount of heat.
With the body operating in such a hot environment, the heart rate will then increase. Up to 10 beats per minute in 50-90% humidity and 23-32 degree heat.
This explains a lot about why I’ve been feeling so slow and puffed on morning runs when humidity sits between 75-90%.
But what can we do about it? Take up swimming during summer? I’m seriously giving this some thought. But if this isn’t an option for you, my advice would be to stow the ego (and perhaps leave the Garmin at home) and start off your run at a slower and steadier pace. Now is not the time for training PBs. Starting off slower might allow you to maintain it and manage your heart rate as the run goes on.
Consider keeping your runs shorter in the mornings or aim to run in the late afternoon when humidity is lower. Ensure you are very hydrated before, during and after the run, even using an electrolyte during or after to help replace lost minerals through excessive sweating.
Let us know if you too have been feeling the effects? Or indeed, please share any other tips or advice you have on running though summer.