We are excited to introduce the first “Training Thursday,” a new monthly feature on Committee in the City brought to you by Focus-n-Fly, the official online training program of the Chevron Houston Marathon. From now through January, we will post monthly training tips for our readers to help you run the best race possible! This month, we focus on how to adjust your training for the hottest time of the year.

Contributed by Dena Evans, Focus-n-Fly

Runners often love to keep a routine. In fact, many of us are downright stubborn. Most of the time, especially during the last few miles of a marathon, this is an asset. However, in the warmer months, conditions may dictate the need to make some adjustments in order to keep your training on track for your fall goal race. 

Consider running at other times of the day and in different venues.

  • Although your lunch break may provide the best time to run, plan ahead – at least on your harder days – to run in the early morning or evening. This is also the time of year when many runners begin to take on new training challenges related to their fall goal races and are vulnerable to a bad day if the conditions are not conducive to a strong performance.
  • Track surface temperatures can often be several degrees warmer than the surrounding areas. Use your car odometer or handheld GPS to measure out your track distances on a bikepath or safe road. The surface may be less flat than a track, but you will ultimately feel better the closer you can come to a reasonable temperature during your workout.
  • Run along a street or path that offers more shade, and run the same short loop twice rather than part of a longer loop that includes much more sun exposure.
  • Many gyms offer trial memberships or reasonable prices during the summer. Take advantage of these and get on a treadmill. Consider how pleased you will be to run at the right pace, particularly with the luxuries of a water bottle and towel that you do not have to hold yourself, and potentially a TV to watch your favorite show. You’re not cheating if you run on a treadmill – you are an athlete that is prioritizing your performance and wants to feel good doing it.

Plan your running around fluid intake.

  • Before you head out on your normal route, which may include bringing along a water bottle or camelback, consider adjusting your route to incorporate water fountains or vendors/convenience stores that you can pop into and buy a sports drink.
  • During these hot months, you will need to significantly take in more fluids than normal, and because you should be in the habit of taking them before you are really parched, be sure to plan for a larger amount of intake and at more spots along the way.

Wear light colored, breathable fabrics.

  • Lighter colors absorb less heat, and breathable fabrics will help keep you, if not cooler, then less hot and sweaty. Wearing a hat or visor and sunscreen are key to avoiding the immediate problems posed by a sunburn as well as long term problems.
  • Plan ahead for the day. Bring bodyglide or an extra pair of socks if your sweaty feet tend to cause blisters or too much slipping as well as a shirt for afterwards so you aren’t sitting in your car dripping and sweating. It is amazing how much better you will feel if you take care to attend to your attire.

A willingness to adjust can help you make the best of admittedly less than perfect conditions and provide a great opportunity to learn that you can succeed even if you have to deviate from your plan.

What are some ways you keep your training going during the hottest months of the year? Comment below and keep checking back for more tips as race day approaches!