Perceived Temperature For Runners Version 1

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This chart gives an idea of what the perceived temperature is while running. This chart has been replaced by a more sophisticated approach at Perceived Temperature For Runners Version 2.

1 Introduction

Normal heat indexes assume a person walking outdoors at 3 mph and generating 180 watts per square meter of skin. The original work states "higher levels of activity would increase the sensitivity to humidity… few people, however, sustain activity above the level considered here for long enough to reach a steady state". This is not very helpful to runners that are moving far quicker than 3 mph and generating a lot more heat. Ideally, I'd go back to the original perceived temperature work, recreate the mathematical models and plug in different values for the heat generation for runners. Sadly, I've not found an easy way of doing that. Instead, I have taken a simple approach based on the idea that in cold weather, the perceived temperature is about 20f warmer than the actual temperature. The chart below is based on the standard perceived temperature calculation, but with 10f added to the actual temperature. The chart below is a first pass at what running at a given temperature and humidity would feel like to someone walking. So running at 76f and 80% humidity would feel like walking in 100f temperatures.

Temperature
70f 72f 74f 76f 78f 80f 82f 84f 86f 88f 90f 92f 94f 96f 98f 100f
Humidity
40% 80 81 83 85 88 91 94 97 101 105 109 114 119 124 130 136
45% 80 82 84 87 89 92 96 100 104 109 114 119 124 130 137 143
50% 81 83 85 88 91 95 99 103 108 113 118 124 131 137 144 152
55% 81 84 86 89 93 97 101 106 112 117 124 130 137 145 153
60% 82 84 88 91 95 100 105 110 116 123 129 137 145 153
65% 82 85 89 93 98 103 108 114 121 128 136 144 153
70% 83 86 90 95 100 106 112 119 126 134 143 152
75% 84 88 92 97 103 109 116 124 132 141 150
80% 84 89 94 100 106 113 121 129 138 148
85% 85 90 96 102 110 117 126 135 145
90% 86 91 98 105 113 122 131 141
95% 86 93 100 108 117 127 137
100% 87 95 103 112 121 132


2 Impact of Humidity

The graph below shows how core temperature (of walkers) on the Y-axis rises with humidity on the X-axis for different air temperatures (lines). You'll notice that at 24f/75f there is no impact of humidity on core temperature. For temperatures between 33c/92f and 45c/113f, the humidity does not change core temperature until a critical point is reached and then there is a dramatic rise. By 50c/122f, even changes in very low humidity make a big impact on core temperature. It seems reasonable that a similar response would be seen in runners, but at lower temperatures.

The effect of heat and humidity on core temperature

3 Dew Point

Runners World suggested that dew point could be used in isolation, and published the simple table shown below. This seems an overly simplistic and flawed approach. For instance, at 3:51 pm 23 Jul, Phoenix, AZ was 105f with a dew point of 55f, which the table below would say is at the low end of "Comfortable, Hard efforts likely not affected". I believe that 105f, even with low humidity would not be comfortable and it would impact my performance.

DEW POINT (°F) RUNNER\'S PERCEPTION HOW TO HANDLE
50–54 Very comfortable PR conditions
55–59 Comfortable Hard efforts likely not affected
60–64 Uncomfortable for some people Expect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
65–69 Uncomfortable for most people Easy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
70–74 Very humid and uncomfortable Expect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greater Extremely oppressive Skip it or dramatically alter goal

4 Other Sports

This page is focused on runners, but may apply to some other sports such as soccer. It would not apply to cycling or similar sports where there is more air movement.

5 See Also