9 Things I’ve (Re) Learned While Training for a Fall Marathon in the Summer
I am alive.
I know it’s been quite a while since I posted, but trust me I have written at least a dozen witty posts in my head. My athlete, Alex, gave me a friendly reminder the other day. She said she was patiently waiting. I have been getting a lot of creative outlet time at work so the blog fell to the wayside. As it does. BUT! I’ve also been running and coaching and livin.’ (Side note: I interviewed a young man for a job and when asked what he had been doing lately his response was, “I’m livin.” Cracked me up!)
Instead of a recap of what I’ve been doing lately, I will just give you all a list of things I have re-learned during this marathon training cycle. Way back in 2017 I ran my ninth marathon, and while that doesn’t seem quite so long ago, I haven’t trained for a fall marathon since 2010! And back in 2010, I swore I’d never run a fall marathon again! Summer in Florida is BRUTAL. It’s humid and hot as hell! In order to train for a fall marathon this means slogging an ass-ton of miles in the smack dab hottest months of the year.
All that changed, of course, when I was selected to run the Chicago Marathon via lottery entry. Again, training for a fall marathon in Florida is like running on the sun, but add in the humidity of 10,000 swampy swamp swamps. With the exception of one glorious 20 miler in Iceland, I’ve been slogging my way through marathon training. Unfortunately, I have made some rookie summer running mistakes along the way. But I have learned my lessons (again) and want to share these tips with you. On the plus side, I only have five weeks to go until race day!
Here we go….
- Everything chafes extra when you are super sweating for a prolonged time. So after about three longs runs of some of the worst chafing ever, I realized that even if I start a summer long run with copious amounts of Body Glide – it’s not gonna last! And trying to reapply Body Glide onto a sweaty body doesn’t work! The only thing that does work is a big old glob of petroleum jelly. But you have to reapply mid run or else be prepared to scream in the shower.
2. You are going to have to slow down. No matter how much you want to hit all your amazing spring running times, it just ain’t gonna happen. And that’s OK! I’ve made my peace with slowing down while it’s as hot as an oven outside. I take myself inside on a treadmill when I want to really nail those paces on longer runs.
3. You need to both HYDRATE and FUEL more. I read here and here that you burn more calories when it’s hot and this makes total sense! Typically I can run for about an hour and feel fine on an empty stomach. However, the more humid and hot it is outside the more quickly I feel depleted. I’ve started eating small meals before even hour longs runs and I feel much better! This also includes eating and drinking enough while on your runs.
4. The earlier you run, the earlier you’re done. (And not running under full blown sun fire.) At the beginning of this training cycle I was trying to start my long runs at the late, late hour of 6 AM and I realized quickly this would not do. I suffer a lot in the heat and even though 4:30 AM is basically still night time, it is awesome to finish a run by 8 AM!
5. Socks matter! The right running socks can make or break your long run. On one long run, that wound up being cut two miles short, I had a blister on the ball of my foot that was killing me! I realized I was running in my everyday running socks. What I needed were some heavy duty wicking socks that would work harder to keep my feet dry. I have yet to find socks that are capable of this – but I think Swiftwick does a pretty good job. (I plan to change socks half way for this weekend’s 20 miler.)
6. Always carry hydration on the long runs. Ugh, I hate carrying things while running! I’ve never been a fan of having to carry my own hydration so I avoid it whenever I can. I try to run routes with plenty of water fountains, but in this heat – plain water at random intervals ain’t gonna cut it. In order to have hydration at the ready, I found this tiny handheld that is perfect for me. It’s not too heavy and I do typically have enough fountains on a route to re-fill after I’ve gone through my Infinit. And of course, I replenish my Infinit when I swing back by my vehicle.
7. Don’t plan a day full of activities after your long run if you can help it. After one particularly grueling run, I had planned a bunch activities for the day and let’s just say that did not go well. Normally, on long run days, I can mow down some caffeine and enjoy my Saturday. However, these long runs in the summer are straight kicking my ass. I have thus re-learned not to plan anything until after I get a solid nap in!
8. Take a trip north for at least one long run. While not everyone is going to pack up and head to Iceland like I did, it is recommended you get somewhere cooler for at least one long run. I swear that 20 mile run in Iceland was such a HUGE relief. I felt good and not only enjoyed running in cooler temps (54!!) but I also loved exploring by foot. Next summer, plan a trip and get your cool run on!
9. Be kind to yourself. Ok, so this goes without saying, but running in the summer is hard! When paces that normally feel easy, feel extremely difficult there’s a tendency to get down on yourself. Don’t do it! You just have to understand that everyone is suffering and your hard work will pay off as soon as the temps decrease. After all, it IS running. If it were easy, everyone would do it! Give yourself a gold star for getting out there – no matter the pace.