Impact of Weather on Marathon-Running Performance

U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA 01760, USA.
Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise (Impact Factor: 3.98). 03/2007; 39(3):487-93. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e31802d3aba
Source: PubMed


Marathon running performance slows in warm weather conditions, but the quantitative impact of weather has not been established.
To quantify the impact of weather on marathon performance for different populations of runners.
Marathon results and weather data were obtained for the Boston, New York, Twin Cities, Grandma's, Richmond, Hartford, and Vancouver Marathons for 36, 29, 24, 23, 6, 12, and 10 yr, respectively. The race results were broken into quartiles based on the wet-bulb globe temperature (Q1 5.1-10 degrees C, Q2 10.1-15 degrees C, Q3 15.1-20 degrees C, and Q4 20.1-25 degrees C). Analysis of the top three male and female finishers as well as the 25th-, 50th-, 100th-, and 300th-place finishers were compared with the course record and then contrasted with weather.
Marathon performances of top males were slower than the course record by 1.7 +/- 1.5, 2.5 +/- 2.1, 3.3 +/- 2.0, and 4.5 +/- 2.3% (mean +/- SD) for Q1-Q4, respectively. Differences between Q4 and Q1, Q2, and between Q3, and Q1 were statistically different (P < 0.05). The top women followed a similar trend (Q1 3.2 +/- 4.9, Q2 3.2 +/- 2.9, Q3 3.8 +/- 3.2, and Q4 5.4 +/- 4.1% (mean +/- SD)), but the differences among quartiles were not statistically significant. The 25th-, 50th-, 100th-, and 300th-place finishers slowed more than faster runners as WBGT increased. For all runners, equivalence testing around a 1% indifference threshold suggests potentially important changes among quartiles independently of statistical significance.
There is a progressive slowing of marathon performance as the WBGT increases from 5 to 25 degrees C. This seems true for men and women of wide ranging abilities, but performance is more negatively affected for slower populations of runners.

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    • "fixed work rate protocols, although both methods provide a sufficient stimulus for increased heat shock protein-72 gene expression, a recent review on the topic suggests it is important to maintain the adaptation impulse to facilitate plasma volume expansion (Taylor, 2014). The reduced thermal strain in temperate conditions following STHADe is a novel finding with practical relevance for athletes preparing to compete under environmental conditions posing a moderate, yet still potentially limiting (Galloway & Maughan, 1997; Ely et al., 2007), thermal burden. "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the effect of short-term heat acclimation with permissive dehydration (STHADe) on heat acclimation (HA) and cycling performance in a temperate environment. Ten trained male cyclists [mean (SD) maximal oxygen uptake: 63.3(4.0) mL/kg/min; peak power output (PPO): 385(40) W; training: 10 (3) h/week] underwent a STHADe program consisting of 5 days of exercise (maximum 90 min/day) in a hot environment (40 °C, 50% RH) to elicit isothermic heat strain [rectal temperature 38.64(0.27) °C]. Participants abstained from fluids during, and 30 min after, HA sessions. Pre- and post-STHADe HA was evaluated during euhydrated fixed-intensity exercise (60 min) in hot conditions; the effect of STHADe on thermoregulation was also examined under temperate conditions (20 min fixed-intensity exercise; 22 °C, 60% RH). Temperate cycling performance was assessed by a graded exercise test (GXT) and 20-km time trial (TT). STHADe reduced thermal and cardiovascular strain in hot and temperate environments. Lactate threshold [Δ = 16 (17) W] and GXT PPO [Δ = 6 (7) W] were improved following STHADe (P < 0.05), but TT performance was not affected (P > 0.05), although there was a trend for a higher mean power (P = 0.06). In conclusion, STHADE can reduce thermal and cardiovascular strain under hot and temperate conditions and there is some evidence of ergogenic potential for temperate exercise, but longer HA regimens may be necessary for this to meaningfully influence performance. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 07/2015; DOI:10.1111/sms.12526 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "However, a limitation of this study is that the number of finishers is not equally partitioned and therefore in some groups, especially in 200 km and 1,000 km, the number of athletes is very limited. Furthermore, physiological (Billat et al. 2010) and anthropometric characteristics (Knechtle et al. 2010b), fluid intake (Williams et al. 2012) and environmental factors such as weather conditions or temperature (Ely et al. 2007) were not included in the analyses. Future studies need to investigate 200 km and 1,000 km ultra-marathons with a higher number of finishers. "
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated age and performance in distance-limited ultra-marathons held from 50 km to 1,000 km. Age of peak running speed and running speed of the fastest competitors from 1969 to 2012 in 50 km, 100 km, 200 km and 1,000 km ultra-marathons were analyzed using analysis of variance and multi-level regression analyses. The ages of the ten fastest women ever were 40 ± 4 yrs (50 km), 34 ± 7 yrs (100 km), 42 ± 6 yrs (200 km), and 41 ± 5 yrs (1,000 km). The ages were significantly different between 100 km and 200 km and between 100 km and 1,000 km. For men, the ages of the ten fastest ever were 34 ± 6 yrs (50 km), 32 ± 4 yrs (100 km), 44 ± 4 yrs (200 km), and 47 ± 9 yrs (1,000 km). The ages were significantly younger in 50 km compared to 100 km and 200 km and also significantly younger in 100 km compared to 200 km and 1,000 km. The age of the annual ten fastest women decreased in 50 km from 39 ± 8 yrs (1988) to 32 ± 4 yrs (2012) and in men from 35 ± 5 yrs (1977) to 33 ± 5 yrs (2012). In 100 km events, the age of peak running speed of the annual ten fastest women and men remained stable at 34.9 ± 3.2 and 34.5 ± 2.5 yrs, respectively. Peak running speed of top ten runners increased in 50 km and 100 km in women (10.6 ± 1.0 to 15.3 ± 0.7 km/h and 7.3 ± 1.5 to 13.0 ± 0.2 km/h, respectively) and men (14.3 ± 1.2 to 17.5 ± 0.6 km/h and 10.2 ± 1.2 to 15.1 ± 0.2 km/h, respectively). In 200 km and 1,000 km, running speed remained unchanged. In summary, the best male 1,000 km ultra-marathoners were ~15 yrs older than the best male 100 km ultra-marathoners and the best female 1,000 km ultra-marathoners were ~7 yrs older than the best female 100 km ultra-marathoners. The age of the fastest 50 km ultra-marathoners decreased across years whereas it remained unchanged in 100 km ultra-marathoners. These findings may help athletes and coaches to plan an ultra-marathoner's career. Future studies are needed on the mechanisms by which the fastest runners in the long ultra-marathons tend to be older than those in shorter ultra-marathons.
    SpringerPlus 11/2014; 3(1):693. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-693
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    • "In contrast to other studies on the subject of the age of peak triathlon performance, the strength of this study is the direct comparison between the three different distances rather than focussing on solely one race distance. Regarding the study design, a limitation in this retrospective study is the fact that we were unable to consider factors of endurance performance such as physiological (Saunders et al. 2004) and anthropometric parameters (Knechtle et al. 2010d), training intensity (Knechtle et al. 2010d), previous experience (Knechtle et al. 2010b), motivation (Houston et al. 2011), and environmental conditions of the race (El Helou et al. 2012; Ely et al. 2007). Despite these limitations this study reveals beneficial information to athletes and coaches and expands the existing data about the exact age of peak triathlon performance. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was (i) to determine the age of peak triathlon performance for world class athletes competing in Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman distance races and (ii) to investigate a potential change in the age of the annual fastest athletes across years. Data of ages and race times of all finishers in the international top races over the three distances between 2003 and 2013 were collected and the annual top ten women and men were analysed using linear, non-linear and hierarchical multivariate regression analyses. The age of peak male performance was 27.1 ± 4.9 years in the Olympic, 28.0 ± 3.8 years in the Half-Ironman and 35.1 ± 3.6 years in the Ironman distance and the age of peak male performance was higher in the Ironman compared to the Olympic (p < 0.05) and the Half-Ironman distance (p < 0.05) triathlon. The age of peak female performance was 26.6 ± 4.4 years in the Olympic, 31.6 ± 3.4 years in the Half-Ironman and 34.4 ± 4.4 years in the Ironman distance and the age of peak female performance was lower in the Olympic compared to the Half-Ironman (p < 0.05) and Ironman distance (p < 0.05) triathlon. The age of the annual top ten women and men remained unchanged over the last decade in the Half-Ironman and the Ironman distance. In the Olympic distance, however, the age of the annual top ten men decreased slightly. To summarize, the age of peak triathlon performance was higher in the longer triathlon race distances (i.e. Ironman) and the age of the annual top triathletes remained mainly stable over the last decade. With these findings top athletes competing at world class level can plan their career more precisely as they are able to determine the right time in life to switch from the shorter (i.e. Olympic distance) to the longer triathlon race distances (i.e. Half-Ironman and Ironman) in order to continuously compete in triathlon races at world class level.
    SpringerPlus 09/2014; 3(1):538. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-538
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