Sunday, January 15, 2012

Running performance: was it fear or cold?

Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Like we used to say when I was growing up in Boston, this morning was "wicked cold." It wasn't obvious that the temperature had dropped into the teens when I got up, because our thermostats do a good job of maintaining a comfortable temperature in the house. I was surprised to see the local TV station reporting 18° in Woodbury. Worse, with wind chill, the effective temperature was 2° F.

I think my reaction to freezing cold differs from most people. I was elated by the opportunity to bundle up and go out for a run. The trick is to maintain the right balance of layers so that you don't start out comfortable and end up hot and miserable. Due to time pressure, I knew I wouldn't going too far on my run, so that gave me more latitude for overdressing. Had I gone 6 miles instead of 3 today, I probably would have overheated by the end.

I felt cozy and warm when I hit the street and I moved along well from the start. I wore a balaclava to protect my face from the wind and that helped keep my head warm. Unfortunately, the ventilation panel in the front restricted my breathing and I had to pull it down below my chin. That was fine until I changed direction toward the west and the wind hit me full on.

As bad as it was, I pressed on and changed direction as soon as I could. I was pushing myself but I didn't think I was going very fast, at least compared to other runs this past week. I was racing the clock because my wife made it clear that she needed me back by a certain time. I was reasonably confident that I would keep on schedule but I grew nervous as time went on.

I managed to complete my run with seven minutes to spare and a look at my Garmin showed that I averaged close to 9 minutes a mile. Considering that I expected today's run to be on the slower side I was pleased with this result. The freezing weather probably contributed to my surprising pace by making me run faster to stay warm. Then again, it could have been the fear of being late that ultimately pushed my pace.

4 comments:

  1. We ran a 5k at Robert Moses today and it was coooooold!

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  2. I'll bet it was. Did the chill help or hurt your pace?

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  3. I was 4 seconds slower than last week. I did train a bit less intense this week so I had more energy than last Sunday. I find my winter 5k's are off by as much as 45 seconds from good effort spring/fall races. Temperatures below 35 with wind make for some tough conditions. Only thing worse for me is hot and humid.

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  4. I've discovered that April and November are my ideal months for race performance, which is consistent with what you're saying. Those winds yesterday would have been PR killers. I'm sure it was even worse near the water.

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