Marathon Training in the Heat

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The heat of summer has already hit here in Central Florida. Marathon training doesn’t stop because of the weather. When you are training for a goal race, you get your miles in, period. Running in the hot temperatures can be tough, but there are ways to make things a bit more comfortable and safer this time of year.

1. Run early. If you aren’t an early bird, this may make you cringe. But, to avoid the hottest time of day, you’ll need to run earlier. Whenever you can get your miles in before the sun comes up, do so. Once the sun rises, you not only have the humidity to deal with, but the heat of the sun. It may not seem appealing to wake up at dark o-thirty in the morning, but I’d much rather deal with a crazy early wake-up call than the hotter temps later.

2. Hydrate! This is important all of the time, not just on the day you are running. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your runs (especially on long runs), and of course stay hydrated during the run itself. Heat stroke and other heat illness issues are serious business, and can even be life-threatening. At the same time, do not drink too much water during your run. Drinking 4-6oz every 20 minutes as you are out on your run is a good rule of thumb to go by so you don’t overdo it. If you hear a sloshing in your stomach, stop drinking.

3. Adjust your pace. When it’s hot out, your pace should be slower, especially on long training runs. Jeff Galloway recommends slowing down 30 seconds a mile for every 5 degree increase above 60 degrees. Your body is just not going to be capable of running as fast in the hot weather, so slow it down.

4. Wear light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors, and definitely avoid anything cotton. There’s so many options out there for moisture wicking clothing for running. Also, avoid hats, as you lose most of your body heat from the top of your head. Instead, go with visors and/or headbands (like Bondi Bands).

5. Water, water! Besides staying hydrated, pour water on your head to help you stay cooler. Ice towels are also a great, great thing during the hot summer runs. Our Program Director of my local Galloway group puts ice towels out for us and they are amazing when you are hot. It’s the little things that make a lot of difference in getting through a tough, humid run. Some races have made cold towels or sponges available during hotter races, so they are definitely a great idea!

Those are my top heat running tips that I’ve learned over running the last few years. I didn’t mention sunscreen, but a waterproof/sports one is a good way to go. The only issue with sunscreen is that it can clog your pores, slowing your sweat rate. But, it’s better to wear it and avoid sunburn in my opinion. It’s worth checking with your doctor however, if you have questions about using it.

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Anything I miss that you’d like to add? Post your suggestion or tip in the comments. 🙂


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