Long, Slow, Hot Summer Distance Runs

hot-sunI had an 18 mile run on the calendar for Saturday. My hope was to be out the door running at 5:30 a.m. When I hit start on my watch it was 5:50. The sun was up, it wasn’t terribly humid and it was almost cool for a summer morning. By the time I got to mile 5 I was thinking how much better it would’ve been if I had actually left at 5:30. And if I could’ve run at 5 a.m. I bet I would’ve enjoyed even a few cooler temperatures earlier in the morning. The point is, the earlier, the cooler. At the end of 18 miles I was hot, covered in salt and had downed all four bottles of water in my fuel belt. And it’s only June. I have 11 more weeks of marathon training to do and the long runs inevitably peak during the hottest parts of the summer.

Surviving Summer Marathon Training

I don’t have any secret sauce for marathon training during the summer. This isn’t the first time I’ve done it and it won’t be the last. Runner’s World has covered it in every pre-summer issue I can remember and is a great resource for tips and advice. Runners in southern climates battle this problem for much longer time periods than just June through August and no doubt they are well conditioned to running in extreme heat. And yet, knowing that I’m certainly not alone running in the heat and already being aware of best practices for surviving summer training, it is still hard and there are inevitably things I miss or forget that could make hot runs a little more bearable. So here’s my list of do’s and don’t’s for summer running:

  • Do wear sunscreen (I forgot this on my last run; I got lucky that I didn’t burn but it still wasn’t wise)
  • Do wear a hat or visor and sunglasses; I’ve found that without them, fatigue sets in faster from squinting in the sun
  • Do wear light colors
  • Do hydrate! My best tip on this is the night before I will fill my bottles halfway and stick them in the freezer and then fill two of them the full way right before I leave. By the time I need the other two on the run they have thawed out (and are usually warm).
  • Do get out the door as early as humanly possible.
  • Do try to run in as shaded of areas as possible.
  • Don’t drink alcohol the night before. It zaps hydration. (I’ve also discovered it gives me heartburn during a run.)
  • Don’t be dismayed over slower paces. It is bound to happen in summer heat. I seem to run somewhere around 10-30 seconds slower depending on how hot it is.

What am I missing? What do you do to survive training in the summer?

2 thoughts on “Long, Slow, Hot Summer Distance Runs

  1. Erin

    Thanks for the list! I don’t plan on running a marathon anytime soon but the water tip is helpful. Also, knowing that others are up at ridiculous hours to get their run in is comforting.


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