Weather v. Sprint Performances

How much does decreasing weather (air temperature) affect sprint performance? Are there lower and upper limiters that will affect the athlete from a neural, as well as musculature standpoint, sprinting in cool vs. hot temperatures?

Air temp and humidity can make huge differences to performances. Cold temps make the movement of the muscles and joints much more difficult AND colder, damper air is much denser to run through. As air temp rises the molecules are farther apart. When the air is dryer, there are less water molecules. At altitude, the molecules are farther apart still. When the air is travelling in the same direction, you pass through less molecules overall. Etc, etc. Now you begin to see, with so many variables, why I don’t buy into these so called “scientific” assessments of the values of various runs when they don’t have anywhere near all the facts- even what the wind really was in the lane involved from one end of the race to the other . For example Athens was hot, Paris was cold. Was any consideration given to that? No. Is it possible to fairly compare results beyond the accepted rules? NO!

good explanation i always wondered about that.

Thanks, Charlie. Given the differences, would there be any changes from warmup to location of same, if time (>3hrs.) is provided. Would you do more of a specific drill (Mach skips, for example) in cooler temps or spent more time with accelerations and/or some form of lower body stretching?

When the temp is cooler, I’d spend more time on low speed, core temp raising activities and make sure that stretching is mixed in with running, so that you aren’t sitting around for very long. Use heat rub on the legs, as this helps you loosen up. Sometimes you can find an indoor spot to do sit-ups, push-ups, etc, mixed with stretches in a change room or bathroom. Keep a dry towel ready for when you take your sweats off, to keep the breeze from cooling your legs off further from evaporation just before your race. (The rubbing of the towel will re-activate the heat rub as well.)
If you know it’ll be cold in advance, adjust your diet to have a few more calories than usual, with more flax oil and add supplemental carnitine. You’ll feel the heat difference!

I often wear 2 pairs of tights in the cold. It feels slighty more restricted, but I don’t think it matters as long as the muscles are kept warmer.

Thanks again Charlie. This will help our athletes later this week.

I guess, as with high school athletes in big invitationals, might there be somewhat of an advantage being holded up in a paddock area during unagreeable weather conditions (aside from precip)?

However, not being able to move around and keeping the limbs from normally contracting/extending would be a problem.