It’s that time of year in Houston…the days are hot and humid and it’s tough to think about getting your mileage in. Ambassadors Sara and Lindsay are here to give you some running and hydration tips to keep you moving during the hot summer months.

Summer training and my favorite Houston group runs
By Ambassador Sara Hudgens

We are just under 24 weeks away from the Chevron Houston Marathon Race Weekend of Events and that means it’s just about time to start training. But training for a marathon or half marathon isn’t just about the 18, 16, or 12-week program leading up to race day. I might be slightly crazy, but I love running in the heat – and logging hot, but necessary miles in the summer can make the difference between a decent run or a personal best come January.

It’s a smart idea to carefully build up to 20-25 miles per week at least a month in advance of your training program start date. If your first official long run is September 13th (18 weeks out from race day – January 17th), you might begin building your base in early to mid-August. Many programs suggest a first long run of anywhere from 4-10 miles, depending on your level as a runner and if you’re preparing for a half or full – and you’ll want to make sure you can handle that distance when that day comes. Intense speed work, hills, tempo runs and long runs aren’t extremely necessary during this pre-training time; it’s more about getting in the miles and preparing your body and mind for what is to come.

For me, summer base miles are mostly aerobic miles with a bit of the fun stuff mixed in. If you heart rate train, most of your miles are run in the Endurance Zone or Zone 2. If you don’t heart rate train, simply run most of your miles at a slower, steady rate. This eventually increases your aerobic capacity, allowing you to run faster later on down the road. It’s perfectly okay to change it up a bit and work on your speed – but not too much! Not only is it more difficult to run at a higher intensity due to our Texas heat and humidity, but it also increases the risk of injury before you’ve even entered the real training phase. I’m always a fan of one-minute pickups in the middle of a run. It’s just the right amount of time to get your legs moving to a quick but comfortable pace. Think about slightly elevating your heart rate as opposed to focusing on your pace. Run easy for a few minutes in between each pickup to bring your heart rate back down.

These are some of my favorite Houston summer runs – check them out if you’re ever in the Houston area!

  • Park in one of the spots at Nicholson and 19th Street in The Heights and run the Heights Hike and Bike Trail! Go out and back on a paved, flat surface for as long or as short as you want. Have a friend bike, rollerblade or run with you for extra motivation. Since the bike trail is nice and flat, it’s the perfect setting for a fartlek or tempo run – just watch for cars at each intersection!
  • Local Pour Social Run with Luke’s Locker on West Gray – every Tuesday at 6:30pm. Come run with a fun group of people – all paces and distances welcome!

  • Head to Memorial Park and run a loop or two. Be sure to check out the new Running Trails Center for a break from the heat and a super cold water fountain inside.
  • Park (legally) along Allen Parkway or Memorial Drive and run the beautiful and newly updated Buffalo Bayou. One full loop is about 4.5 miles. Added bonus – you’ll get a little hill work in!

Hope to see y’all out there – and don’t forget to hydrate! 🙂

About Sara Hudgens
Sara grew up in Houston, living all but her college years in the greater Houston area. She ran competitively for Cinco Ranch High School, attended Texas A&M University, and currently teaches math and coaches cross country in The Woodlands, Texas. She got back into running after college, beginning with 5ks and building to marathons. She paces The Woodlands Half Marathon each year and is a 4-time Boston Marathon qualifier. Sara is currently training for the Boston Marathon next Monday and will run the Chicago Marathon in the fall. Besides running, Sara loves the pool, shopping, and checking out new restaurants in Houston.
Twitter – @saramhudgens
Instagram – @shudgens

Houston’s Hot, So Stay Hydrated!
By Ambassador Lindsay McClelland

It’s officially my third summer in Houston, needless to say, I’ve learned a LOT about hydration. I grew up swimming competitively and while I always carried a water bottle to the pool, I never had a grasp on just how important drinking it was to performance. When you’re swimming, you don’t realize how much water you need to take in because you don’t see it pouring off your body like you do in other sports. Plus, in those days, I consumed just as much Diet Coke as H20 anyway, yikes.

Now that I’m in my late 20s, I’ve traded the pool for the streets and hot yoga studio. The combination of running and heated vinyasa yoga equals a ton of sweat, especially in the summer. It also gives me a great gage for exactly how hydrated I need to be to have a good workout or yoga practice. My marathon training has started to wind up just as the humidity levels are peaking, and I’m remembering just how tough running through this swamp I lovingly call home can be.  Without proper hydration, I don’t think I could train at all. Plus the side effects of dehydration aren’t worth it…who wants headaches all day? Not me.

So, in the spirit of being healthy, happy, and hydrated this summer in Houston, I give you my favorite hydration tips!

Carry your bottle! Bring a water bottle with you everywhere. If you don’t have water, you can’t stay hydrated. For me, my pretty pink bottle goes wherever I go. Bonus? Carrying your own bottle is better for the environment and it’ll save you a few bucks.

Find a supplement that works for you. On hard training days (or for me, days when I double up on yoga and running), plain ‘ole H20 doesn’t cut it. Houston’s humidity has me sweating outside before I even start a workout, so I need to work extra hard to replenish my electrolytes. From salt tabs and Gatorade to Nuun—there are so many great supplements and hydration drinks out there. Find one that works for you and use it!

Plan your running routes around water. If you’re like me and aren’t a fan of carrying your water while running, planning your routes around water is key. Joining a running group that provides hydration stops is an easy way. On solo runs, hit trails like Rice University, Hermann Park, Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Park that have fountains every 2 miles or so. In a pinch, carry a few bucks or a credit card for the convenience store.

Lay off the booze. I enjoy a cold beer on a hot day just as much as the next girl, but when I’m training in the summer I just can’t handle the dehydration that comes with it.  When enjoying adult libations, always balance your alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will staying hydrated benefit your training, it’ll also curb the hangover the next day.

Listen to your body. Your body knows if it’s hydrated…so let it do the talking. The pee test is a no-brainer on hot, humid training runs. If you’re looking at dark yellow, get sipping.

Whether this is your first summer training in Houston or your 50th, staying hydrated is the most important part of your training! If you have hydration tips that you’d like to share with me, Tweet me at @Lindsaylm using the #HouMarathon hashtag!

About Lindsay McClelland
Lindsay is a PR and social media professional at MMI Agency in downtown Houston. Making her way to Texas by way of Hawaii, she’s found that trading in her flip flops for cowboy boots isn’t so bad!  While she does miss living in paradise, she’s fallen in love with her new city, its great food and friendly fitness community. Lindsay has run nine marathons and more half marathons than she can count, is a yoga teacher and former collegiate swimmer. One of her favorite things about Houston is the supportive running community, from the competitive training groups to fun social runs. Lindsay’s father is also a runner, last year they trained together and even ran the first 10 miles of the Houston Marathon together! When she’s not running, you can find Lindsay at the yoga studio or planning her wedding!
Twitter – @Lindsaylm
Instagram – @lindsaylm