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Steve Wagner / Forum Communications Co., Published May 13 2012

Wagner: We can't control the weather, but we can prepare for it

Bemidji, Minn.

As a runner, there are a lot of aspects of our sport we can control.

Short of injury, we can control how much and how hard we train, when to do those workouts and tweak our training – based on life’s demands or experience – to help get the most out of our running.

Taking control of all the variables will make us better runners and lead to faster running – a sign of improved running economy and efficient form – so we enjoy the sport even more.

Learning to manage these factors will help on race morning, when we encounter a few things beyond our control.

Most notably, we can’t control the weather, but we can prepare for the conditions we might face on race morning.

Use last year’s Fargo Marathon as a model. At the start, the temperature was nearly perfect for the race. Soon, though, the thermometer climbed and left many suffering out on the course. The most critical factor, though, was a high dew point.

This year, runners also should prepare for a warm race.

The National Weather Service’s long-range forecast shows a high of 81 on Friday, with a chance of showers and a low of 60 at night. For Saturday, the weather service has a chance of showers, partly sunny skies and a high near 77.

If the forecast holds, we may again face warm, humid conditions. As a runner, this means two important steps: hydrating well the day before the race, and making sure to drink at all of my planned water stations.

To me, it’s easier to plan on running in these conditions and tailoring back hydration if the weather turns mild. An unprepared runner, who fails to have a plan, will pay the price.

When we face higher temps and humidity, our bodies often can’t effectively and efficiently cool itself because our fuel reserves are being burned for both cooling and running. High dew points means sweat doesn’t evaporate quickly or easily, so we often don’t realize how much fluid is lost during exercise.

And all of this can lead to a serious bonk on race day after we’ve put in months of training.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.