Half-Marathon Training in the Summer

Participant ribbon from one of the local summer fun runs.

Participant ribbon from one of the local summer fun runs.

There was once a time when I really relished a long summer run. Not so much anymore. Thank you, Shreveport.

In New Jersey, there might be a “heat wave” where the heat index exceeds 100°, maybe once a year. I can’t even believe I used to complain about this when it only lasted a week or two, max.

Now, I live in a constant heat wave for six months every year. This means there are some new challenges when training during the summer months for the famed fall marathon (or half) season.

I’m currently training for the Women’s Running Half Marathon in Nashville, TN, and I hate running on a treadmill. After battling, (yes, battling), two previous summers in Louisiana, where I felt faint, dizzy, and nauseous, after almost every run outside, I think I finally have it right this third time around.

I’m sharing my tips for running in temps that make your life miserable, so it’s not as miserable.

  • Hydrate fully an entire day before a long run (anything exceeding 5 miles) with lots of water, a lot of watery fruits and veggies, and skip anything carbonated or heavily caffeinated.
My two favorite choices for staying hydrated.

My two favorite choices for staying hydrated.

  • Set the alarm for 5:00am (or earlier). This is the hardest part, but also the most important. You need to already be running while it’s still dark out. Once the sun has been up and blazing for only a mere hour (around here it rises a little after 6am), it will begin to feel like the fires of hell have been unleashed upon you. Think you can just wait until the evening when the sun goes down? Think again. That asphalt you’re running on has been baking all day and will continue to radiate heat like a fry pan.
  • Expect that your pace will dramatically slow down. No, you’re not out of shape (okay, maybe just a little), but the heat is going to take a lot out of you, and your first mile is going to look a lot different than your last mile.
  • Under absolutely no circumstances should you wear any article of clothing made out of cotton when going for a long run. This is a classic rookie mistake. Google it for horror stories.
  • Bring water with you on the run. You can invest in some fancy gear, but I think that’s cumbersome. I usually just carry a baby 8oz water bottle with me and refill it at water stops as I go. The best (free) water stop in Shreveport is here:
A BIG thank you to the residents of this development for letting local runners stop here for water!

A BIG thank you to the residents of this development for letting local runners stop here for water!

  • Lastly, don’t overdo it. Hitting a mileage or time goal isn’t worth it if you’re feeling awful.

Happy running!

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Filed under Running, Southern Living, Summer 2013

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