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Energy versus temperature and running performance

Something we have been reading about this year, and are now keenly observing in our own performance is the relationship between the body’s temperature and its performance in running.

As we all know, the human body is a marvelous piece of [nature’s] engineering, and it is very good at maintaining a fairly constant temperature through a range of environmental conditions. The body has to gain or lose heat in order to do this (controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain). Our core temperature remains quite constant through this regulation, but the skin and underlying tissues are subject more to environmental changes.

As we exercise, we produce heat and a surprising fact we found is that a huge amount of the energy we use during exercise is actually in regulating (or losing) that heat! The body simply can’t keep up with the rate of heat creation in its effort to stabilise the temperature, be that heat created from our increased metabolism, muscle movements or external factors such as hot weather.

It is quite a complex subject so I won’t attempt to explain it in full here… Anyone interested in learning more would do well to read this article on runtheplanet.com though as it goes into great detail about this subject!

Through our own experimentation we have found the following tips to be very helpful and have shown us a markedly noticeable difference in energy levels when training and competing. Some of this is pretty obvious stuff of course, but we are surprised at the number of runners we see out there in the hot weather still slogging away wearing their long sleeves and tights!

  • Plan your runs at the cooler times of day (early morning or in the evening)
  • Wear as little as is decent!
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate
  • Replace lost salts after your run (and hydrate some more!)
  • Acclimatize the body to the temperature if you must run in the heat, start slowly and build up to pace
  • For really long runs take some good quality energy gels/sweets which will help replace salts and carbs on the go. (Needless to say you should have water with you as well!)
  • Weigh yourself before and after your runs to understand how much water you lose. Then replace it before your next workout!

Some times it is hard to get the balance of clothing correct. I always tend to over-dress as it feels windy or chilly, but then halfway through my run I wish I was in just a vest and shorts! It takes a bit of getting used to your own body, especially as you improve and get fitter, but its worth keeping in mind that your body will perform better (and recover quicker) if it can more easily regulate heat loss…

Enjoy the summer! 🙂

Paul.

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Posted by on 4 July, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recovery, Running

 

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