Many of you are probably training for the Naperville Half Marathon (or another fall half marathon) and by October, the weather will be much more favorable for running a successful long-distance event. Unfortunately, your training plan calls for long runs in the summer, during the heat and humidity of August and September. Here are some tips to successfully make it through those late-summer long runs:
Watch the weather. First and foremost, watch the weather forecast. If you learn in advance that your long run will fall on a day with less favorable conditions, adjust your plan accordingly. Keep in mind that your running performance drops below optimal levels when temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and will fall off 10% or more when temperatures exceed 80.
Have a plan B.
If it looks like your long run is planned for a hot, humid day, consider these options:
Switch the day. Consider moving your long run 1-2 days earlier (or later) if your schedule allows. Your long run is your most important run each week, so moving or adjusting a couple of your shorter runs won’t hurt your training. The goal for the week is to have a successful long run.
Start early. Starting at 5 a.m. can make a big difference in the amount of heat and humidity you face during your long run. Getting most of your long run in before the sun rises can improve your chances for success.
Find the shade. A shady course can make as much as a 10 degree difference in ambient temperature.
Go indoors. Consider doing your long run on a treadmill or indoor track. It might be more boring, but the conditions will be much more favorable. This will allow you to achieve your goal training pace more successfully than running outside in 90+ degree heat. To avoid boredom, listen to music or a podcast, or run with a training partner.
If all else fails, you have no other option and you must run in the heat and humidity, hydrate and slow your pace. One of the main purposes of the long run is to teach your body to handle exertion and energy expenditure over a long period of time. In the heat, exertion levels and energy expenditure will be much higher for a given running pace. Hydrate properly before your run and go as slowly as necessary to complete your long run, taking frequent hydration breaks (including both water and electrolytes) and walking breaks. Don’t worry about your pace or time, the training effect is occurring and in your next long run, weather permitting, you will do and feel much better.
Stay confident through these late-summer long runs and when the weather cools, you will reap the benefits of difficult training in the heat.