We woke up this morning to find this Special Weather Statement issued for Austin:



Well, that sounds fun for a 17 miler this weekend, doesn’t it? Granted, I definitely learned my lesson from last weekend: I will not be getting up to run at 7 a.m.; at that point, I’ll probably be halfway through!

However, even with conditions like this, I’ve had to change the way that I think about how I run. Instead of focusing on hitting specific paces or times, I am more focused on perceived effort. 

Perceived effort is a philosophy where you use several factors – such as how you feel, your heart rate and in some cases, you time – to determine how hard you are working. If you are running a tempo run, for instance, you know where you should fall on the scale of effort… and can match that feeling based on how you feel in the current situation. 

Here is what the scale (the Borg Relative Perceived Exertion Scale, that is!):


I think there are some great benefits to running based on perceived effort. For one, when things like the weather are out of your control during your training plan (I mean, who’s idea was it anyways to sign up for an August marathon and train through the Texas summer?), it can make it a lot less stressful when you don’t worry about hitting crazy paces when you just physically can’t run that fast when the weather gets in your way. 

It also teaches you some things about your body. Understanding where you fall on the perceived effort scale can make sure you know where you stand when the going gets tough. Sometimes it can be easy to settle into a pace, but if you challenge yourself to think about where you are on the scale, you can challenge yourself to push a little bit harder.

Of course, the one downside is that you aren’t hitting those paces that you need, especially if you are training for a goal time. I firmly believe that by being able to train through difficult weather conditions, it helps you improve your running efficiency, and thus, your time. I think this is why, even with the worst training EVER, I was able to smash my marathon PR time at the 2010 NYC Marathon — because I was forced to train through the hot Florida summer and my body had to adapt. When it was put into a situation with better conditions, it was a pleasant surprise and felt so easy.

So, if you too are facing some crazy hot temps this weekend, try a perceived effort run and see how it goes! You may surprise yourself. 🙂


Do you run solely based on time or do you practice perceived effort? 

Would you rather run in a blizzard or extreme humidity? 

What’s your favorite summer treat to keep you cool? 


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