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.

1 Follower
15 Reads
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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
  • Source
    • "During exercise, metabolic heat production increases disproportionately with respect to the ability to off-load the heat, thereby increasing core body temperature. Exercise capacity is affected by different ambient conditions, with the most favorable conditions occurring at 11 1C (Galloway and Maughan, 1997), though Ely et al. (2007) showed that marathon performance progressively diminishes as temperatures advance from 5 1C to 25 1C. It has been proposed that exercise in the heat is limited by a "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of the core to skin temperature gradient during incremental running to volitional fatigue across varying environmental conditions. A secondary aim was to determine if a “critical” core temperature would dictate volitional fatigue during running in the heat. 60 participants (n=49 male, n=11 female; 24±5 yrs, 177±11 cm, 75±13 kg) completed the study. Participants were uniformly stratified into a specific exercise temperature group (18 °C, 26 °C, 34 °C, or 42 °C) based on a 3-mile run performance. Participants were equipped with core and chest skin temperature sensors and a heart rate monitor, entered an environmental chamber (18 °C, 26 °C, 34 °C, or 42 °C), and rested in the seated position for 10 minutes before performing a walk/run to volitional exhaustion. Initial treadmill speed was 3.2 km·hr−1 with a 0% grade. Every 3 minutes, starting with speed, speed and grade increased in an alternating pattern (speed increased by 0.805 km hr−1, grade increased by 0.5%). Time to volitional fatigue was longer for the 18 °C and 26 °C group compared to the 42 °C group, (58.1±9.3 and 62.6±6.5 minutes versus 51.3±8.3 minutes, respectively, p<0.05). At the half-way point and finish, the core to skin gradient for the 18 °C and 26 °C groups was larger compared to 42 °C group (Half way: 2.6±0.7 and 2.0±0.6 vs. 1.3±0.5 for the 18 °C, 26 °C and 42 °C groups, respectively; Finish: 3.3±0.7 and 3.5±1.1 vs. 2.1±0.9 for the 26 °C, 34 °C, and 42 °C groups, respectively, p<0.05). Sweat rate was lower in the 18 °C group compared to the 26 °C, 34 °C, and 42 °C groups, 3.6±1.3 vs 7.2±3.0, 7.1±2.0, and 7.6±1.7 g•m−2•minutes−1, respectively, p<0.05. There were no group differences in core temperature and heart rate response during the exercise trials. The current data demonstrate a 13% and 22% longer run time to exhaustion for the 18 °C and 26 °C group, respectively, compared to the 42 °C group despite no differences in beginning and ending core temperature or baseline 3-mile run time. This capacity difference appears to result from a magnified core to skin gradient via an environmental temperature advantageous to convective heat loss, and in part from an increased sweat rate.
    Journal of Thermal Biology 07/2014; 43(1). DOI:10.1016/j.jtherbio.2014.04.002 · 1.51 Impact Factor
Show more