Fall temperatures make for perfect marathon race conditions, but unfortunately, in the U.S., require training through the hottest part of the year.
Summer training can feel more difficult because the increased temperature means that blood flow normally going to your muscles must be diverted to the skin to help maintain your body temperature.
Train smart for your fall marathon this summer with the following 10 strategies that work for everyone from beginners to elites.
Surviving Summertime Marathon Training
Acclimatize: As winter wore on everyone started to wear less layers as they acclimated to cooler temperatures. This same process will happen with warm weather runs. Give yourself at least 14 days to adjust. Start with short early-morning runs to get familiar with how the heat will impact your performance and hydration needs.
Sip, Don’t Gulp: Sipping water each mile prevents that sloshing feeling in your stomach that comes along with chugging big gulps of water all at once. Sipping consistently will also help ensure that you don’t bonk, as dehydration happens more quickly with increased sweating.
Electrolytes: Maintaining an electrolyte balance is just as important as replenishing with water. A well hydrated runner who begins to sweat may find their body flushed of these important minerals, which prevent cramps and muscle fatigue. Try adding some to your water for during the run or take a capsule like SaltStick 30 minutes before heading out.
Slow Down: Your average heart rate can increase up to 10 beats per minute in temperatures from 75°F to 90°, which means runs will feel much harder. Slow down in order to ensure that you will be able to cover the increased mileage without getting overheated or fatigued.
Visors, Not Hats: Unless your hat somehow has a built in air conditioner, stick to a visor which will allow heat to escape from the top of your head.
Enhanced Recovery Routine: Because your muscles are working harder due to a decrease in blood flow, recovery must be a part of your running routine. After long runs, try a short ice bath and compression pants to instantly increase circulation and reduce muscle fatigue.
Flexitarian: It’s not just a diet trend, it’s a summertime strategy that runners can use to split up their training routine. In the heat of the summer, runners may need to divide long runs between mornings and evenings to cover the mileage without feeling overheated. Or it may require skipping a speed session for a slow and easy workout if your only free time for running is while the sun is up.
Pre-workout Slushy: A 2011 study showed that runners who ingested an ice slushy prior to running were able to run farther in hot and humid conditions.
Lower Pre-run Protein: Metabolism of protein boosts heat within the body. Focus on small carbohydrate meals such as a slice of bread or a banana with 1 tablespoon of nut butter for before-run fuel.
Consistency: The slower pace of summer running can create doubts about fall race goals. Instead of focusing on pace utilize this time to build endurance and stamina, which will translate to better racing as temperatures drop.