The human body’s ability to adjust to varying conditions, with sufficient time and the help of mental toughness, amazes me. Since I picked up running seven years ago, I have taken on temperatures between 0 and 105 degrees and my body has never failed to adapt to any of the extreme, including a mini-blizzard, in any season of the year. I do, as do all runners, have my preferences depending on the distances I plan to conquer.
When not racing, I do not mind any temperature, as I feel no pressure to perform to the best of my ability. Race day, not so much. Up to the half marathon, I prefer the low 30s, as my body moves the fastest and maintains its pace the longest in that neighborhood, not to mention I rarely worry about dehydration. In a marathon, I enjoy closer to 40 degrees, as I inevitably move at a slower pace than that of up to 13.1 miles. On the other hand, in an ultramarathon, particularly 50 miles or longer, I choose hot over cold any day. I cannot run 50 miles nonstop and must periodically walk, and since I move significantly more slowly in these crazy distances than in non-ultras, my body temperature plummets during breaks of more than 10 or 15 minutes. During my 102-miler, when the sun set, bringing the temperature down from 90 to 50 degrees, my body shivered viciously as a result of the short time off after the first 50 miles. In the ultra before of 51 miles, I experienced the same shaking immediately following the race. In these distances that unavoidably throw so many variables and obstacles, my time would certainly improve by hours in the cold but my chances of finishing would likely diminish.
I have been working in Nebraska, one of the coldest and windiest states in America, for the past three-and-a-half years and last night close to 8:00 PM decided to cover my face and go for a quick run of nearly four miles in 0 degrees. Confusingly, I barely felt the cold, and when this afternoon reached 22 degrees, I even felt warm. Where am I that 22 degrees feels warm? This even made me want to run the Antarctica Marathon one day. Again, I am amazed by the human body’s ability to adjust.
What is your ideal running temperature/condition?