Thursday, March 31, 2011

Does low temperature affect my running?

Basically, cold makes me "feel" tight. I think it makes me run "slower". But does it?


Process: I looked into my running log, picked all the Interval runs I had on Tuesday at my target running pace, and I calculated my %-age-of-target for each of these runs. (So if my interval pace was 9:00 and I ran the interval at 9:30 my percentage of target would be 94.7%) Then for each one of these runs I went into my log and pulled out the "feels like" temperature and did a scatter plot, tried to fit a trend line, and calculated a correlation.


Results: Although, the math says there is a correlation of 69.9% with those two sub 10°F temperatures (I was also going through a bit of gut cramping for those two-weeks), if we drop those numbers we see a weaker correlation on the remainder of 30.4%.



Conclusion: My running is basically unchanged in the range of 10°F-36°F. If there is a temperature function at work, it's slight, or I am able to adjust for it by altering my clothing for that day. It looks like the discomfort of running at these temperatures is really "all in my head".

I've been keeping a log of what I wear when I start my winter runs.  And then I make a note of if I was cold at the start or at the end, or if I need to wear more or less if the conditions are the same next time.  So far I think it's helped.  For those two interval days running below 10°F (I have had 6 days below zero and 22 days below 10 total for this Winter's runs) I wore two pairs of track pants, a couple of technical shirts, a sweatshirt and a turtleneck with thermal socks, glove inserts and mittens!

Since I run a warm up distance before my interval running, this graph could also show me that my warm up is effective in bringing my body's working temperature to an efficient level for interval work.

At least this is just one less excuse for bad performance for me!

12 comments:

Missy said...

I completely agree about the cold weather, I feel like my muscles just tighten up and I can't relax and get into a good groove, so therefore I choose not to run outside if it's under 45 degrees lol Good solution!

bobbi said...

This is super interesting to me - i've always wondered about temperature's affects on performance, although I'd suspect that the heat would negatively affect me more than the cold...

Michelle said...

Interesting...I've been wondering about the effect, if any, this brutal winter has had on my running. Still waiting for it to warm up!

CupCake said...

I have wondered if I run slower in the winter, solely because my body feels sluggish. So far anything between 42f and 50f seems to work best for me (depending upon outfit and time of day I'm running). Can't wait for it to get warmer though!

Johann said...

Our weather never drops as cold as yours (not even close) so I can't really comment on this. I know my winter and summer morning runs are not different because of the cold.

Adrienne said...

Wow--you are a total nerd :) I mean that with love.

Alison said...

Wow, you plotted all this stuff! I am too lazy even with a paper log.

Anecdotally though I agree with you that if I don't warm up properly, and don't keep the pace up, then cold weather makes my feel tight, and slows me down.

Nelly said...

As someone who loves numbers and analysis, I love this chart! It brought back memories of my statistics class, I think the closer the correlation coefficient gets to 1 means the correlation is greatest? is E the number they use for representing this? 30% doesn't seem to be a big correlation, but great job getting all of this data!

Doug said...

Since the weather down here is in the 80's, I wonder how that affects my running in the summer when our temps are in the upper 90's and the humidity... well, that's always there. You can put more layers of clothes on, but at some point, you run out of layers to strip off in the heat. I may have to agree with Bobbi on that one.

I am pretty sure that I wouldn't go out if it was 5 degrees outside. Not running at least. I have gotten sick just going out running in 20 degrees.

Still Running said...

This reminds me of statistics class too. Cold sweats and general lack of awareness of what was going on. I had to take "stats for dummies" for my BA in the 1990s and I'm still at a loss.

BrianFlash said...

I like the data collection and scientific approach. Everyone is different so keeping good data and learning from it is a great way to improve.

In 'The Lore of Running' Dr. Noaks looks at running very scientifically thru all the latest research. For someone with a scientific bent, you should check it out!

Jill said...

"They" say 55 degrees is the optimal temperature to run; a variance in 10 degrees either way will affect your performance about 3-6%. There are exceptions, of course....those darn Kenyans really mess everything up.