There’s a great paradox for fall marathons if you live in Texas. Some of the best marathons are set for the fall, but you need to get in your training in the summer heat. Marathon legend Bill Rodgers once remarked during a visit to Austin, that he didn’t know how folks could train for a fall marathon given the Texas heat.
Well, Bill, we can, and we do. Why? Because we don’t have a choice! Seriously though, you can train through the summer and run a great fall marathon (especially if it’s cooler out!).
“My strategy during the summer is to focus on strength and endurance over speed,” said Austin’s Muna Mitchell, who is currently building up for a fall marathon. “Summer is a good time to build up mileage because of the extra daylight for safety and the better weather for footing. The heat makes hard efforts a challenge, though, so I run by effort for mostly steady runs and make sure to keep up with salt and fluids even when not running.”
Here are a few more tips:
You are going to run slower. The heat and humidity affect your running quite a bit, as I’m sure you know. That’s because your body must divert blood from working muscles to the skin’s surface to cool you through perspiration. So, you’ll need to adjust your goals or training plans. Don’t try to hit your normal speed work times. The heat will greatly impact your speed and stamina.
Don’t forget about hydration. Yes, you’re going to sweat a lot. Literally, quarts. You’ll need more water and electrolytes. Always carry water on your runs—especially going long—and drink up before and after running. Losing more than five to six percent of body weight causes the risk of heat-related illness to increase dramatically. You might be excited to see the scale go down after a long run, but the reality is you need to recover what you lost in fluids. Step on the scale before running, and then after. Over the next several hours you should drink enough to bring your weight back to pre-run level.
Allow for adequate rest and recovery. Running in the heat sap your energy and depletes you in ways that cool-weather running does not. Take it easy after your weekend long runs. Don’t be afraid to get a decent nap in. Most, if not all elite triathletes (who train hard through the summer) build naps into their daily routines.
Dress light and run early. Running gear has come a long way, and Ready-to Run has some great summer running gear, designed to wick sweat away and keep you as cool as possible. Running early during the Texas summer goes a long, long way towards your ability to handle the heat. Manu serious summer runners in Texas get in their miles before 6:00 a.m.
“I look at training in the heat as natural Erythropoietin (EPO – a hormone produced by the kidney that promotes the formation of red blood cells),” said Bill Schroeder, who is currently closing in on his goal to run a marathon in all 50 states under four hours. “Your body adapts and has to work harder in the heat and more so humidity. Once fall gets here then the cooler temps feel easier to run faster. I have six marathon PRs and five came in the fall, Oct (3) and Dec (2).”
Upcoming Races: Sunday, June 16 at 7:00 a.m., the 13th Annual Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, Lake Pflugerville. Saturday, June 22 at 8;00 a.m., the Hero Hustle 5K/10K at Brushy Creek Lake Park, 3300 Brushy Creek Rd. in Cedar Park.