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Bitch Mountain In The Heat

16 December, 2018

Swartmodder? No problem!

I have coined a new word – tortoisity – pronounced tor-toss-itty –  and it means showing the characteristics of a tortoise. Tortoises make cute cartoons and apparently they always win in the end so displaying totoisity is not necessarily a bad thing.

But today as I lie shattered on the bed after 17 kilometres on Bitch Mountain, previously known as Swartmodder, in 30 degree heat (Celsius that is) I am wondering how much of the difficulty was due to heat and how much was due to general tortoisity.

I consulted Dr Google as one does in these situations and what I found was interesting for a runner training under the unrelenting African sun. For every 6 degrees above 12 degrees Celsius your marathon time gets slower by 1.5 to 3 percent, so up to 6 percent for 24 degrees which isn’t even a particularly hot day in our neck of the woods.

There are scientific explanations involving blood plasma  but basically as it gets hotter our hearts beat faster, our bodies dehydrate quicker and the blood flow to the muscles slows down, all of this making that slow pace seem like a humungous effort.

So what to do? Train hard when it’s cool, below 13 degrees Celsius that is, because the fitter you are the more your total plasma volume and the easier it is to adapt to heat. Train in the heat to increase adaptation but lower your expectations pace-wise. 

So there is my answer – tortoisity alone cannot be blamed for the slow pace on a hot day. It’s a combination of things. Get out there and train, no matter the weather, but don’t beat yourself up if the heat prevents you from achieving your desired pace.