Speeding Up For Fall

By Jill Forsythe

Running stairs

Fall is just around the corner as the temperatures begin to cool off and daylight grows noticeably shorter. You’ve trained hard over the summer months through heat and humidity and that goal race will be here very soon.

You might find yourself in a position of worry about missing too many runs due to work or those summer youth leagues your kids belong to. Maybe you are wondering how your paces are going to improve, when all summer long you have felt like you never had a good speed session with all of the humidity.

I’m here to tell you, stop worrying! Summer training is tough, no doubt about it. According to Runner’s World “World’s Best Coach” Jack Daniels, your pace will naturally slow down as temperatures and humidity rise. It’s your body’s natural reaction to the weather. Daniels says that high temperatures adversely affect your race performance in temperatures over 60 F. For instance, if you are running an 8:00 pace in 60F, you can expect to run 8:08 pace in 70F, an 8:15 pace in 80F and an 8:22 pace in 90F.

Tim Noakes explains in his book, “Lore of Running,” that the body uses sweat to cool itself. As the temperature and humidity increase, it becomes more and more difficult for the body to naturally cool itself through sweat and we inevitably end up overheating (Noakes 179). Running slower in the summer is smart.

One of the reasons why autumn is a favorite season for racing is because as the temperatures begin to fall, especially in the months of October and November, so do our paces. We begin to naturally speed up not only as a result of our hard training but also in response to cooler temperatures. All of that hard work we put in over the summer months will begin to pay off. Use this to your advantage and stop beating yourself up over all of those horrible summer runs, especially the ones when you found yourself walking.

One important thing to bear in mind as you head into fall racing season is not to overdress. Those cooler temperatures may trick you when you first head outside, especially on a race morning. Just remember, temperatures will rise as the morning progresses, and so will your internal thermometer.

Overdress and you will soon find that not only are you sweating a lot, but you are also going to slow you down. Haven’t you ever shed a layer when you felt as if you were overheating only to discover a pep in your step immediately afterwards? Dress as if it is 10-20 degrees warmer than it actually is.


Jill Jill ForsytheForsythe Jill is a lifelong athlete having participated in both competitive and recreational sports. Health and fitness is a trait she has worked hard to instill in her children, as well as the community-at-large. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit, Lehigh Valley Road Runners, and has directed both trail and road races within the community. lvrr.org