I was reminded of a condition predicated by the opposite ends of the thermometer these last couple of weeks and I wanted to write about it.
We all know that we are slower (and weaker) in 80+ degree temperatures but we sometimes forgot that we also lose a bit of speed (and power) in sub 25 degree temperatures. Much of the reason for both conditions is all about the blood….
Or more precisely the lack of blood available to our working muscles. Our muscles that are so vital to our performance (whether running or competing in a Strongman competition in Lapland, Finland Brilliant!) just do not have the full access to their plasma pool when so much of that resource is going to our organs to warm us up or to our skin to cool us down.
Most of us recognize and respect this in the summer, but I think perhaps many times during the winter we think since it is not hot that we are not being adversely affected by the temperature. The fact is that for most sports that utilize a high percentage of our muscular output (whether for long periods in an endurance sport or for short bursts in a power sport) the optimal temperature for best performance is 35 – 60 degrees. Above or below that range and there is at least some impact.. the greater outside that range (in either direction) the more of an impact it has on performance.
Yes I know there are those that don’t seem to be affected as much as others when dealing with the extremes of the temperature band.. and this is true… but everyone will perform at their best in moderate temperatures. Even if the difference is very small for some.. it is a difference and should be considered. And when racing or competing in such difficult conditions, take comfort in the fact that it is affecting everyone out there to at least some degree.
I wanted to write this straightforward post because I have been out there on the roads and trails recently and expected to hit a certain pace during a run and was unable to. I had to think for a second what was different… my training was going well, my nutrition seemed solid and I was well rested… the difference was that it was 15 degrees with windchill and I was at a disadvantage physiologically.
I was working just as hard as if I were to have hit my intended pace for that workout but was unable to hit it because of reduced biochemical resources.
So was that workout at a slower pace any less valuable than if that workout had been at the intended pace? No it wasn’t because by working hard and keeping strong with less blood (and its nutrients), I am conditioning all of my systems to make due with less. Thereby… when the conditions are right (when it is 45 degrees and dry) and my body is working fully with me (because it doesn’t have to work on its own preservation) I will feel like I am on fire! The truth of the results from training in difficult conditions will make its self known!
Best of luck in your training!