How to Run a Race in the Heat

heatMany of the races that you will find in your local area, whether they are full marathons or shorter 5k or 10k races, are held in the sunny summer and early fall months.  While that means that you shouldn’t have to run in the rain, you might have to run in some pretty serious heat.  If you are unprepared, running in the heat can be dangerous due to the extra fluids you will lose along the way.  However, the heat can be conquered with a good strategy and proper preparation.

Stay Ahead of the Game

The first key to running a successful race in hot conditions begins long before the you get to the course on race day.  You need to be keeping yourself properly hydrated in the days, and even weeks, leading up to the race.  This means drinking plenty of water throughout the day and possibly a sports drink after your training runs.  If you get even mildly dehydrated, it will be difficult to catch up in time and your race day performance could suffer.

Cover it Up

Your first instinct might be to wear as little clothing as possible for your hot weather race, but that would be a bad idea.  Rather, look for long sleeved, loose fitting synthetic clothing to stop some of the sun’s power from getting to your body.  These materials also do a good job of helping sweat evaporate off your skin, cooling your body.  A hat is another important accessory to your hot weather running wardrobe to keep the sun off of your head and prevent losing too much moisture off your scalp. Even a pair of good sunglasses might be a smart idea.

Listen to Your Body

Once on the course on race day, make sure to pay attention to your body and do only what it will let you.  One of the most important things about how to run a race in the heat is understanding that you might not be able to record as good of a time as you could on a cooler day.  Accept that fact and listen to your body all along the way.  If you start to struggle with your energy levels due to the heat, back off on your pace until you recover and can pick it up once again.

Get Outside to Train

Many of us train indoors on a treadmill for convenience most days of the week.  If that sounds like you, make sure to start training outside in the weeks before your race.  If you go straight from an air conditioned gym to the hot roads of race day, you will not be happy with how your body performs.  Try to get in some runs in conditions that are similar to what you will face when the race comes around.  Knowing how your body will deal with the heat, and how much liquid you need during your run, is great for your confidence.

There is no need to shy away from participating in a race just because it will be run in the hot summer months.  While the race might be a little more difficult, your body can be up to the challenge with good preparation and some smart accessories.  Train in the heat before your race and listen to your body – in the end, you will be proud you have conquered the heat and ran a great race.

This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by Matt R., a guest author

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