You may have heard my recap of the Lincoln Marathon, this episode will give you a frontseat look at how hot weather affected my race.
There have been a few notable races that were hot this year including the LA Marathon in March. Since it takes approximately 2 weeks of training in warmer conditions for your body to acclimate you may not have that much time to adjust pre-race.
Here’s what you can do:
How weather races—How to adjust and still have a good experience
Remember, if you’re racing in the spring and have an unusually warm day it will require that you proceed more carefully and listen to your body. Any temperature above 60 degrees F requires your body to work harder at cooling while running. Any humidity can decrease the evaporation of sweat adding to the perceived heat.
If you’re unused to running in warm conditions it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to PR at a warm weather race. But you can still have a good (and safe) experience if you follow a few simple guidelines.
An article in Runner’s World discussed the optimal race temperatures:
When French researchers analyzed the finishing times of 1.8 million marathoners over a 10-year period, they found that a race-day temp of 43.2°F produced the quickest times overall. But faster runners, who generate more heat, benefited from cooler temps, with the top one percent (green line below) peaking at 38.9°F. Midpackers (red line) do best in the mid-40s.
- Manage your expectations. This may be time to go to plan B in your race strategy. You will need to pace yourself more conservatively and carefully monitor how your body is responding. This is a time to run by effort. Don’t be afraid to take walk breaks if you notice yourself starting to overheat. Heart rate is increased during warm weather so any sign of shortness of breath, dizziness, or extreme thirst should be taken seriously. If you have preexisting medical conditions then any signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be even more dangerous. Be sure to seek the help of the race medical stations for any signs of trouble.
- Dress for the conditions. As a general rule wear light colored, technical gear that allows for decent air flow. If the morning starts off a bit chilly a throw away shirt is preferred to wearing a long sleeve running shirt. A hat is also important to keep the sun out of your eyes and sunscreen is a must.
- Take in proper hydration and electrolytes. Be sure to go into the race well hydrated and take an electrolyte tab or two pre-race. Too little and too much fluids can both be dangerous so make sure you’re taking in water and electrolytes in small regular amounts. As a general rule you don’t want to consume more than 24 oz of fluid in an hour. Sucking on ice can actually help regulate your thirst and be good for cooling your body between aid stations. Be sure to continue hydration post-race as well. For an electrolyte source I use Endurolytes by Hammer.
- Stay cool. A good strategy during warm races is to consume some water at the aid station and dump the rest on your head. If they offer ice carrying a small cup can be very beneficial. You can suck on a piece, put it in your sports bra and rub it on your face and the back of your neck. At the A2A Marathon in Oklahoma they offered cold wet towel and sponges to help runners stay cool. Take advantage of any shade on the course too. During the Missoula Marathon many homeowners turned on their sprinklers for people to run through.
- Be careful about consuming alcohol, ibuprofen and large amounts of caffeine pre-race. These products can lead to a higher risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and kidney problems.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever run a hot marathon?