I’m still over 3 weeks out from my next race, but that hasn’t stopped me from checking the weather forecast just about every day. Something I’ve been doing for the past couple weeks if I’m being honest. It’s not that I have a fear of the weather. Let’s just say I have a very healthy respect for how it can impact an ultra.
Frankly, weather and meteorological conditions have a far greater impact on ultra performances than I think most people understand. We run in weather all the time and I think it desensitizes us to it’s impact. During training, we get our gear dialed in for rain. Or freezing temperatures. Or heat and humidity. But there’s a huge difference between a 3 hour long run in rain and moving for eight straight hours in it. Especially when you’ve already been moving for 5-10 hours before the rain even starts.
The longer you go in ultras, the more your tired your body gets. [duh] The more tired it gets, the less able it is to do all of the things we normally take for granted. Like maintaining your core body temperature or cooling itself. The latter I experienced recently at Eastern States where the heat of the second day had me moving much slower than the even warmer temperatures of the prior day. On the other end of the spectrum my rule of thumb is that overnight in hundreds typically feel 10-15 degrees cooler than I would typically expect. Learning that rule resulted in my first DNF.
Weather can be dealt with, but you need to plan for it ahead of time. And since they’ve yet to perfect weather forecasting, you need to plan for a variety of conditions around the forecast. At least ten degrees on each side of the projected highs and lows for each day. The challenge with Buckeye is I’m looking at not just one day of forecasts, but three days. The more days, the greater the chance of variance so I’ll probably need to plan for 15-20 degrees on the off chance things change dramatically. I typically do better in warmer temperatures than colder so this will translate into more clothing than I’d probably prefer to carry. I’ll also need to come up with some contingency plans in case it rains for more than 5 hours at a time. Maybe this means hand warmers. Maybe it’s stopping and getting out of the rain until it stops. Maybe it’s something else I haven’t thought up yet. Regardless, it’s never too soon to start planning.
I wonder if the forecast has changed yet again. . .