Tuesday, May 8, 2018

How to Train for a Long Distance Race Through the Heat of Summer

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In addition, I am a Zooma ambassador and have been provided a free entry to the Zooma Summer Challenge in exchange for sharing the information in this post. 

After suffering through what felt like the longest winter ever, I know I'm not alone in welcoming longer days and warmer temperatures. It feels great to peel off the layers and not freeze when I step out the door. Except that for most of us, running in the heat is tough. Having trained for a few fall marathons through some really hot summers, I know that it can be a challenge to get those miles in when it's hot and humid.

Every single time I've signed up for a fall marathon or a summer half marathon, I ask myself why I do this! But over the years, I've gotten a little smarter about training for long distances in the heat. I thought I'd share some of the tips and tricks that have worked for me.



1. Get up and out the door before the heat of the day. Common sense, right? Until the alarm goes off at zero dark thirty, that is. It may be tough to get up before dawn but once that sun comes up, it's going to be so much harder to get in a decent run. The heat of the sun is really intense. If you're not a morning runner, this might be the time to become one.

2. Bring water or plan your route accordingly. In the summer, I know where all the water fountains are located on my routes. I also carry a handheld with Tailwind, my hydration fluid of choice. Whatever you use, make sure you have plenty of liquids available to keep you hydrated.

3. Lubricate areas on your body that are prone to chafing. Somehow I always miss a spot and get an unpleasant surprise in the shower! I've found a really excellent product that seems to stand up well to sweat--pjuractive is a silicone-based gel that has been working really well for me.

4. Run/Walk intervals to the rescue! In the high heat and humidity, it can be tough to maintain any semblance of a respectable pace. Planned run/walk intervals can help you keep consistent splits. You can play with the intervals, but I've found that in really swampy conditions, 4:1 seems to work best for me. There's no shame in walking, but who wants a DNF?

5. Use a heart rate monitor to assess your effort. I used to really struggle with the heat and I couldn't figure out why until I started training with a HR monitor. I could correlate my heart rate with when I started to struggle and once I slowed down, so did my HR. I guess I could have done this without a monitor, but somehow just seeing those numbers really helped me get my head around why I couldn't hit paces that I was used to running.

6. Take some, but not all of your runs to the treadmill. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I get it. If it's really awful out, you could run inside. But keep in mind that running outside helps acclimate your body to warm weather conditions. By avoiding that, you might hinder your progress and your performance on race day.

7. Remind yourself that all this hot weather running is like money in the bank. Once the temperatures drop, you'll find yourself running faster with less effort. This is due to the physiological changes that occur in the body when you train in the heat. What doesn't kill you will truly make you stronger!


Do you need more motivation to get ready to run in the summer? Zooma is hosting a summer training program! Zooma's Summer Challenge is a 6 week program designed to help you train strong through the summer and into the fall. The program consists of a 6 week workout plan and healthy food challenge along with a weekly targeted challenge focusing on one area of the body. There's plenty of support too. There will be a private Facebook group for participants along with weekly check-ins and motivational emails/videos. There's swag too! The challenge starts June 6. I'm doing it! Why don't you join me? Use my code WENDY2018 to save 10% on registration. Don't wait too long--the challenge is already 70% full!


What do you do to survive while running in the heat of summer? Any tips that help you stay on track? Are you going to join me for the Zooma summer challenge?

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run as well as with Debbie and Lora for Running Coaches' Corner! 




53 comments :

  1. Man...I do not miss running in swampy weather. Another tip...switch to triathlons in the summer - haha! That way, a lot more of your long outdoor stuff is on the bike...you still have some runs, but it's mixed in with other things that are easier in the heat.

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    1. Too bad tris don't end with the swim. It would be so much more refreshing!

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  2. Well, you know I'm all about the summer (heat and all). And, I'm all about rising and shining before the sun makes an appearance....those early-morning runs are all about tranquility ;-)

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    1. Once I'm up and out the door, I'm ok but it's the talking myself into it that's a problem!

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  3. I know I complained a lot during the winter and now will probably complain during the summer. When I was training for my marathon a few years ago, I would also start my run very early in the morning, on the treadmill if it got too hot during the day, or late in the evening when it was much cooler.

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    1. If it could be 55 every morning for the run and then warm up for the rest of the day, life would be perfect, right?

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  4. I like to hit up shady trails at the crack of dawn and freeze my water. I keep a cooler in the car and loop back to it to refresh on the super long runs.

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  5. I have never (intentionally) tried walk run intervals but perhaps I should!

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  6. I'd add in make sure you replenish the electrolytes you sweat out. I started drinking my Nuun after each run because I would sweat so much in Texas, and end up with a pretty good headache. Now I do it after every run, and will sometimes have two tablets if it's been a really warm, sweaty run.

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    1. Tailwind has electrolytes and sugar, so that keeps me hydrated and energetic!

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  7. Very true, and great tips! I always find myself signing up for fall marathons and regretting it. Running early does help and staying hydrated is a must!

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    1. I can't decide which is tougher--fall marathon training or spring?

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  8. Yup, done all this before. Except I rarely use the treadmill over the summer.

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    1. Same here. Of course, I rarely use it in the winter either, so there's that.

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  9. I used walk run intervals on some of my long runs last summer when it was crazy hot. It really helped me when race day ended up way hotter than it should have been. I was able to get into a nice interval instead of just walking when I was feeling awful.

    -MCM Mama

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    1. Run/walk intervals continue to save me--most recently in that horrendously humid Mercedes half marathon. I would probably have taken much longer to finish than I did if I hadn't used them.

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  10. Early morning runs, a frozen water bottle, and run/walk intervals are my keys to surviving summer running.

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  11. I've trained for several fall marathons and it really is key to get out the door as early as possible! I actually prefer training in the summer because I always feel faster come fall when the weather cools off.

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    1. There's research to back that heat training! I think that's why I prefer the fall marathon over spring, even though training in the heat is tough! It's like money in the bank.

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  12. Yes! All awesome tips! The only reason I love running in the summer is being able to watch the sunrise since I need to be nearly done running before it get too hot or I die LOL :P

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    1. I like being up for the sunrise too! There's something magical about starting the day like that.

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  13. I’m doing my first half marathon in August and the best thing for me beating the heat is getting out earlier. I love summer running! I love going out at sunrise with cooler temps and getting an awesome view while I run. I don’t mind running in the evening or sometimes (for the shorter runs) during the day as long as I hydrate and find somewhere with some shade.

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    1. I agree, the key is to beat the heat!

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  14. all excellent tips, Wendy. Though I'm not sold on the treadmill thing. Sometimes the gym is even hotter than outside! BUT I am a huge fan of EARLY starts when it's really warm. And WATER. The hotter it is the more you need (with electrolytes!!).

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    1. I'm not a big TM fan either, but desperate times call for desperate measures!!!

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  15. Great tips!!!! If I were to run in the summer it was always early morning, I just can't handle the heat and humidity.

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    1. That's my MO too. Once the sun comes up, I'm toast!

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  16. Running first thing in the morning is what saves me during the summer. I love summer running and I think that's why. If I had to run in full sun and 90 degrees, I'd hate it!

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    1. 100% agree. But don't you just love all the sweat?

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  17. I have a bit of experience running in the heat. These are all great tips. I stopped training for fall marathons after my 2nd St. George Marathon. The plan was to go back and improve my PR from the year before. Our summer was so hot and humid, which made the training so miserable that I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I did finish the marathon, with a good time, but still 10 minutes off my PR

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    1. Your summers are beastly! Is it cool in the mornings, tho?

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  18. Great post! I have some experience running in the heat. I live in Miami. In the heat of the summer here it's in the 80s at night. Sigh. Double Sigh.

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    1. That Florida heat and humidity just gets me every time. But it has to be effective if you train in it all the time. Every race I've run down there, I get crushed by the locals. Even in my old lady age group!

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  19. It's definitely gotten wayyyy hotter, which I'm not gonna complain about because I've so very much missed nice weather. :P These are great tips!

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    1. Right? I'm still adjusting but I'm not complaining!

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  20. I am not looking forward to the Hong Kong heat when we return in a few days. I hope to use some of your tips to get in my twice a week runs outside, but I might be buddying-up to the treadmill.

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    1. I hope it's not too awful for you! You could always crosstrain on that SUP!

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  21. These are great tips! When I would run in high school when I lived in Illinois the humidity was always a beast. Colorado has a nice dry heat so as long as the temperature isn't too hot it's so wonderful to be outside. I hope you guys get a long spring and early fall so you don't have to sweat it out too much!

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    1. We're still having the ups and downs of spring! It's been hot but we're going to cool off again, giving me time to enjoy some runs that aren't such a struggle!

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  22. I try to get out early before it heats up but when that's not possible I have used a neck gator which has helped.

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    1. Do you wet the neck gator? How does it help?

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  23. Great tips! I hate the heat. Thankfully, summers out here are relatively mild, but even then I still prefer to run as early as I can - although it's a tradeoff, because the humidity is often worse in the mornings!

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    1. Isn't that the truth? Summer is definitely a challenge--between the heat and the humidity, it's tough.

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  24. Most of our year is in the heat of summer, it seems, so it's just business as usual here. I'm not down with the treadmill, just because it doesn't simulate any of humidity we have to typically deal with (and it hurts my hips).

    For now it's all about slowing down, hydrating and getting enough electrolytes.

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    1. I'm not down with the treadmill either, but I put it in there because it is an option....

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  25. I am a trail runner, and in my part of Canada there is a lot of forests for which I am very fortunate. Some of my bigger races are right smack in the heat of summer. Definitely challenging, one of the things that has helped in acclimatizing to the heat is spending a lot of time in saunas, in addition to some (not all) of my training outdoors in the hotter part of the day

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    1. I've heard that spending time in a sauna can help acclimate you to heat! I think the best thing to do is to train in the heat.

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  26. Having trained through the summer for two maras and the winter for one, I prefer the summer, but like you, I head out early. Fortunately, I don't mind going out early; unfortunately I have to eat 3 hours before running so that's some seriously early breakfasts! However, my first mara I trained early and kept out of the heat, then it was super-hot on the day and I really suffered, so my lesson from that is to try to do some runs in all kinds of conditions.

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    1. I have to eat before I run long too but not 3 hours before! I drink a smoothie before I run long and I'm usually good to go within an hour or so.

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  27. Haha I admit I always get a little salty when people start complaining about the humidity. I want to say something along the lines of "Do you WANT it to snow?" Glad our long winter is over!

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