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How Does Humidity Affect Heart Rate Training? Melissa’s Feeling the Heat

Role Mother (and marathoner) Melissa is trying out the Half-Marathon Heart Rate Challenge and documenting it along the way. Here, she talks about working in some pick ups (yay!). (Check out her intro post, her first two-week check-in, full of run/walk/skip/stop/bend over combos, and her thoughts on delayed gratification.)

melissa_fentonWell, wave 1 of heart rate training is now a month in! How is it going for everyone? Me? Pretty well. My biggest obstacle is the same one so many of us are dealing with right now: heat and humidity. Generally, my summer run paces are a good two minutes, if not more, slower. Daily humidity here is 100%, so running tends to look a bit more like actual swimming, as you are soaking wet and just trying to stroke your arms and push your way through each stride.

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And that's in the SHADE.

I know the first several weeks of this program are all about developing a base, getting our bodies adjusted to steady, slower, yet longer periods of time running. I am starting to more often be able to “feel” (without looking to verify) that my rate may be too high. For example, after warm up when I settle in to run, I can get a sense of "Slow down. More. Now even more," so I do. Then a few minutes later, I can start again.

Right now I am stuck around 12-12:30 minute miles, but could even go slower and my HR will stay the same. Anything close to 11-minute miles in this heat and it shoots right up. If I went for anything in the 10-10:30 range, well, let’s just say MK would make me sit in the mother runner HRT time out chair. I am curious as to how much heat (and an overabundance of sweat) alters rate, because heat to makes the run feel like so much more work and exertion. Still working on that.

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Melissa switches gears for cross training.

As far as cross training, I can keep it at 140 because I am mostly playing tennis, which is very much a stop and start kind of body movement anyway (rest periods between points and change overs.) Finally, the pick ups have been a welcome addition! After what has felt like a month of shuffling, a few minutes of "flying" felt pretty good! I’m looking forward to continued improvement as we get into the meat of the training now, and I hope you are, too!

We'll check in with Melissa every two weeks to see how she's running and how she's feeling, so come back to follow her progress.

5 responses to “How Does Humidity Affect Heart Rate Training? Melissa’s Feeling the Heat

  1. I think HRT is loooong term. And doing it for the first time with the heat, well, you might as well walk, right? But consider it part of the base building. You aren’t pushing yourself. That base is getting bigger. And we all know we like big b…ases. Learning how to monitor everything by HRT suuuucks for so long until paces start dropping and HR stay the same.
    I just did a 3 hour race that started at 4 pm, the heat of the day, and this is what happened. A LOT of bra ice. But also the feeling that the heat hadn’t licked me while I actually raced. I attribute it to two main things- 1. Hanging at the very low end of all my heart rate zones forever in my training and 2. being out extra in the heat during training built up the endurance.
    You go, girl! Live to sweat another day!

  2. I seriously “heart” pick ups!!! (so does my dog) And yeah, I think the heat has been my biggest enemy in this training cycle. heaven help me, I might have to start getting up at 4am (or earlier) to get my runs in.

  3. I marvel every day I’m out there in the heat and humidity how you HRT gals do it. For sure it would take patience but it sounds like you are getting into a rhythm.

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