You Can Beat But You Can't Cheat the Heat!

Let me first say that last week's mileage was 51, only 1 mile more than the previous week even though I managed to get a 15 miler in. I took Sunday off, which is a rarity for me. I was pretty beat up from the Saturday long run and the day off helped me out, as did yesterday's massage! As I get older I am more and more convinced that regular massage is one of the most important things you can do to rescue your body from the pounding of long distance running!

We're getting into the hottest time of the year now. If you're training for a Fall marathon and are increasing the length of your long runs like you're supposed to be doing, how are you going to handle the heat? Let me ramble a bit.

You are a night owl and can't wake up early. Well this is a problem, especially given most marathons start early in the morning. Your options are a) run in the heat; b) do your long runs at night; c) as part of your training start getting to bed earlier and run early; or d) do some long runs at night and some in the morning. I think your best bet is choice d) as it is a compromise and doesn't completely tweak your schedule. Choice a) could be problematic if you're doing 20 milers when its 90 degrees outside.

You wake up early but the heat is really, well, hot. Some of you may have no problem getting out the door at 5 a.m. to run 20 miles at say 10 minute per mile pace. That means you'll be on your feet until around 8:30 a.m. But between the heat and 200 minutes on your feet, you're concerned about your well being. Carry plenty of cold fluids. Perhaps create a 6 to 7 mile loop that passes by your house. Leave extra bottles filled with ice/fluid at your house so that you can replenish each loop.

You are like me and tend to wake up around 7 a.m. Assuming you get out the door by 7:30 a.m., you'll be out and about until 10 a.m. or so in the blazing heat. It is 85 degrees outside at 8 a.m. Keep your expectations in check. Mentally your goal is to run, as slowly as you need to.  You are running for TIME, not distance.  While your intent may be to run 20 miles, don't "sweat" it (so to speak) if you don't come close to that goal.  But if you can stay on your feet for the time "equivalent" of 20 miles (e.g. 200 minutes if you run at a 10 min/mile pace), you done good!  That said, your best bet is...get yourself to bed and outta bed earlier than your norm.

How about 20 miles on a treadmill? A 60 year old runner friend of mine has the mental fortitude to do this.  I don't.  It is a test of will to run 20 miles on a treadmill and frankly I'd prefer to have dental surgery or even a colonoscopy to this prospect.  But if you can wing it and have fluid handy, then go for it!  If you have your own treadmill, turn a large fan on, find a football game, 3+ hour movie (Forrest Gump?), load up a tray with fluids, and get that 20 miler in without the heat.

Running 20 miles in the early evening.  I used to do this.  Take off work early and start my long run at 5 p.m.  Not particularly enjoyable for me at the time, but it did the trick. The ground is still hot and it can be 85 degrees at this time of day during the summer.  You could also run long later at night, but that gets a bit dicey when you can't see the roads clearly.

Can't fit in 20 miler due to the heat.  It is not particularly healthy running in 90 degree heat.  Some of you shouldn't do this for your own health.  But if you have a hard time fitting in the 20 miler when the temps are lower, your backup 10 miles in the a.m. and 10 miles at night.  That's right! Split your run into two.  While not the optimal training plan, splitting your run into two parts enables you to get in the mileage you need for a marathon.

Not motivated to run 20 miles in the heat?  Don't run alone.  Make some runner friends and train together.  Always helps!

Let's keep the training momentum moving along all summer!