Heart Rate Drift in Permanent Hot + Humid Weather

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  • #11382

    First of all, I’d like to thank Scott and Steve for this amazing book. The advice in there is gold and the frequent topics here on UA on UA athletes are also inspiring.

    I live in a country (Singapore) where it’s permanently summer: 31C or 88F is the average annual temperature with humidity north of 80%. The entire country is at sea level so it’s probably the worst place in the world to be in for budding mountaineers.

    I’ve been trying my best to train in Zone 1 by running outdoors in the morning when it isn’t too hot, but I realized that no matter how slow I go, my heart rate always drifts into Zone 3 (!). During my long-run weekends when I run my regular 21Ks my HR chart looks like a ski slope. Starting off at a cool 130 bpm and then hitting 160-170 bpm at the end. My pace and breathing intensity remains the same throughout, I don’t feel tired at the end of my run either but my HR tells a completely different story.

    (The file attached is one example, but most of my other runs have an even steeper curve. This run in particular was on a cloudy day)

    Recently I’ve tried going slower and slower, even cutting my pace by a full minute/km, and I still noticed HR drift at the end of my run. I’ve tried doing a run indoors on a treadmill with the A/C turned on to its coldest and my HR doesn’t drift as much.

    I know weather plays a huge role in HR training but if my environment is permanently hot and humid, does this mean I will have to stay indoors to train Zone 1 forever and avoid outdoor training altogether?

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    Anonymous on #13148

    You do have a big challenge. Heat stress will cause increased HR drift. Since you live there you are well acclimated already so that’s not an issue. We have clients in India and other hot climates who all report the same thing. This might explain why there are not many elite distance runners coming out of the equatorial countries. It is just much harder to accumulate the easy distance need to build basic aerobic capacity.

    My recommendation, especially since you do not have many hills and no mountains to train on, is to use indoor (hopefully in an air conditioned space) training on a steep treadmill and a stair machine where you may be able to concentrate on longer easier training. I understand the boredom factor but we do work with many clients for whom these are the only options.


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