Marathon training, primarily for fall events like the Chicago Marathon, New York Marathon, or Marine Corps Marathon, lands right smack in the middle of summer. In order to beat the heat while logging your miles, you need to have a plan to stay hydrated, healthy, and safe when the temperature challenges your energy. Here are some things I find helpful when completing my long runs during the warmest weather.
Wear a Water Belt
The most important thing to remember when running in the heat is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can sneak up on you after zoning out for several miles, which is why Runner’s World recommends five to twelve ounces of fluid every fifteen to twenty minutes in order to stay properly fueled. You can’t predict when the water fountain on your route will be out of order, or when you’ll take a wrong turn and run longer than expected; in these situations, a water belt that harnesses one or two bottles ensures that fluids are always on hand. Plus, a water belt gives you the option of filling one of your bottles with a sports drink to replenish your electrolytes.
Dehydration can hit before you even feel thirsty, according to the American Council on Exercise, so it is just as important to be aware of how much you are drinking in preparation for a workout.
Shade, Shade, Shade
There’s no question about it, more shade is better when it comes to outdoor marathon training in the summer. Plan your routes through tree-filled streets and blazed woods to enjoy a beautiful setting that offers natural cover from the sun. If you’re limited to a sunny run, wear a hat or visor to protect your face from the UV rays. Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach, either; it’s a must during long runs to fend off painful burns and long-term skin damage.
Carry a Bandanna
There are tons of hats, towels, and cloths out there that claim to help you stay cool when dampened, but I find that a good, old-fashioned bandanna is just as versatile as similar items that are far more expensive. I like to carry two bandannas on my longest runs—one damp, which I loosely tie around my wrist or neck; and one dry, which I use to keep sweat and sunscreen out of my eyes. The best part is you can re-wet your bandanna whenever you pass a water fountain or sprinkler!
Wear Loose, Light Clothing
Wearing loose clothing on long training runs allows air to travel between you and your apparel, cooling you down consistently during exercise. Light fabrics, both in color and weight, also help to keep you cooler for longer. Look for synthetic clothing designed specifically for running, as it also wicks away moisture from your body to keep you comfortable well into the run. Remember, cotton is rotten when it comes to running. It’s heavy, absorbs sweat, and can even cause irritation and bleeding at more sensitive areas of skin.
It’s important to get your miles in when training for a marathon, but it’s imperative that you do it smartly. If you know it’s going to be especially hot outside during your weekly “hard day,” try running in the morning as the sun comes up or in the evening as it sets to avoid the peak heat. Nobody likes running long distances on a treadmill, but it beats the dehydration, sun stroke, and heat exhaustion you might experience miles from home. If possible, adjust your schedule to get your long run in on a cooler day during the week—just make sure you don’t replace a shorter run, as these sessions are just as important for improving speed and aiding in recovery.
What are some of your favorite ways to keep cool during your summer fitness activities? Leave us some tips in the comments below or send us a #GoodMatters tweet!
Image sources: Laurie Fanelli
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.