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The effect of the outdoor temperature on performance


Running practise generally runs from January to December! In cold weather, or in extreme heat, it is however worthwhile taking some precautions. Always bearing in mind that in seeking to improve – or achieve results – one should not ignore certain elementary precautions.


When the temperature rises

- Get the body used to the heat. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 10 training sessions (which should in increase in duration gradually) for the body to acclimatise to an increase in temperature (often sudden). This should trigger the sweating process earlier, so as to prevent the body temperature from rising.

- Preferably run during the cooler hours of the day. This is an obvious solution that must be followed without fail. It is preferable to minimise the "pressure cooker" effect by running very early in the morning or at the end of the day during the hotter months.

- Stay alert. If the heart rate rises and you are running at a regular pace and if you feel any dizziness or nausea, it is preferable to stop running and quickly find a cool place to go.

- Take care to maintain a good level of hydration. Drink small quantities regularly before the training session, from as soon as you wake up in the morning. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine. If it is clear, then your body is correctly hydrated. Never forget: if you feel thirsty, the dehydration process has already begun…


When the temperature drops

- Pay particular attention to your equipment. Running while feeling (a little) cold during the warm-up phase is a familiar experience when running during the coldest months of the year. However, you need to know how to protect yourself. Starting with the extremities. Wear a hat and gloves and (if it is really cold) protect your throat and the lower part of your face with a scarf. Be mindful that it is preferable to wear several layers of clothing which are fine and breathable (while also blocking out the cold) rather than a single down jacket type garment.

- Keep yourself nice and warm. Warmth is an essential requirement for training in cold weather. What's more, it can be a good idea to train indoors (either at the gym – on a treadmill or exercise bike – or at home using a skipping rope) to increase the body temperature and prepare the body for intense activity. Start running as soon as you get outdoors in order to maintain the benefit of this warm-up.

- Adapt your training to the cold. Runners generally seek to maintain their endurance capacity during the winter. The objective is not to improve.For this reason at least, it is reasonable to keep interval training type activities to a minimum. Furthermore, you should not forget that the treadmill remains an option if the temperatures go below zero.


Knowing how to be reasonable

Contrary to disciplines like cycling, running can be practised throughout the year – just one of its many benefits. Whether it is raining or windy (as well as snowing on occasion), whether it is hot, or even very hot, you can adapt your training session to the weather conditions. However, this should never be without losing sight of the basics: respecting one's physical integrity!

Take care not to do "something stupid" for the sole purpose of sticking to your training plan or beating your record weekly running distance. Don't forget that your body needs balance, first and foremost, and extreme climatic conditions can put excessive demands on it. A temperature in the area of 10 to 15°C (without wind) is ideal for accomplishing a high-quality training session and/or beating your personal best in a competition.


Fluid losses through perspiration can attain up to 2 litres per hour. Given that the body temperature can exceed 39°C in extreme cases when a training session or competition is run in extreme heat. The best precautionary measure (indeed, the only one!) against dehydration remains drinking water at regular intervals.