Marathon Training in the Summer Heat

woman running in the heatHere’s a great question that came in from a fan in India who is dealing with daytime temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit).

Hi A&T, I am a big fan of your podcast. I started running in 2013. I have three running goals: 1. Run a half marathon under 2:00; 2. Run a full marathon under 5:00; 3. Run 2,000 KM in 2017! Last 2 months have been very hot in Pune, India (where I live) with daytime temperatures reaching 39 deg C. It is definitely impacting my pace and soreness. I wonder if a future podcast will talk about running in summer. Regards, -Milind

Marathon Training in the Summer

I did an informal survey on the MTA Facebook page and found the top reasons why people struggled with marathon training in the summer.

  • Only 11% said that they remain just as motivated during the summer.
  • 62% struggled with heat/humidity.
  • 22% had a hard time due to travel/family commitments.
  • 5% dealt with allergies or a general lack of motivation.

Dealing with Heat and Humidity

Training safely through the summer (even if you feel like you’re slogging) can translate to faster race times once the cooler weather hits. Plus, you’ll enjoy those crisp fall runs even more. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for those of us who experience hot and humid running conditions during the summer.

  1. Be sure to check the heat index which takes into account the temperature and humidity levels. This way you’ll be able to plan what you’ll wear, how much fluids and electrolytes to consume, and how far you’ll run.
  2. Consider running early in the morning (before sunrise is best) or in the evening after the sun goes down. Try to avoid the hottest time of the day which is 10am-4pm. If the sun is out in full force, try to run in a shaded area or make a loop where there’s shade.
  3. Stay hydrated during warm weather. Consume 16 oz. of water an hour before your run. Carry water or a sports drink with you during your run and consume between 16-24 oz of fluid per hour. Freezing your water bottle pre-run or using in insulated bottle can give you a good source of cold fluids while running. You may need to add additional electrolytes during longer runs in warm temperatures. You may want to choose a route with water fountains or a loop where you can have access to fluids.
  4. Wear light-colored synthetic fabrics and avoid cotton. You should also wear a broad brimmed hat or visor and sunglasses. There are various products to aid cooling (like a bandana with ice around your neck). I’ve put ice in my sports bra before during marathons to help keep cool. A cool sponge or washcloth midway through can also help decrease your body temp.
  5. Chaffing! Since warm weather means more sweat this may increase your chances of chaffing so be sure to use plenty of anti-chaffing product.
  6. Apply waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30+ that has UVA and UVB protection to all exposed skin and reapply as needed.
  7. Don’t push the intensity of your workout which could lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Accept that your pace will be somewhat slower on hot days and don’t be afraid to take walk breaks as needed.
  8. Be careful about consuming alcohol, ibuprofen and large amounts of caffeine surrounding your summer training. Each of these can lead to increased risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and kidney problems. Remember that certain prescription medications can make you more sensitive to the heat so investigate that carefully before you train in the summer.
  9. Know the signs of heat related problems like dehydration and heat exhaustion. Symptoms like drastically increased heart rate, dizziness, shortness of breath, extreme thirst, your body not sweating any more, and nausea are all potential signs of a medical emergency.
  10. Consider doing part of your long run on a treadmill on super hot days when you don’t have the option of shade or running early in the morning.

Remember that the heat will slow down your running pace considerably and impact your performance. My slowest marathons have been due to the heat. Hot days are not the time to try to set a PR or other time goal. Take plenty of walk breaks!

When I ran the Lincoln Marathon the temps climbed up into the 80s. The race was in May when most participants were not conditioned to the heat yet. Unfortunately I saw lot of people being loaded into ambulances or receiving treatment. Scary! For more info on safely running in the heat and calculating your fluid needs I have a training lesson on this inside the Academy member’s area.

Staying Motivated In Your Training

Academy Membership is a great way to find motivation, accountability and support in your running this summer. We have members from all over the world who are pursuing their running goals. Trevor and I and our fabulous MTA coaches are always here to answer your questions.

See What’s Inside the Academy here:

Marathon Training Academy

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