You've been training for months through one of the coldest winters in history. Now race day is here and it's suddenly hot. What do you do? Here are some tips to help you prepare.
What runner doesn't check the weather forecast obsessively leading up to their weekend long run? We all do it, admit it! It's as if we can will the weather to be ideal conditions. Unfortunately, the weather is going to be whatever it wants to be on race day. Like it or not, you have to deal with it.
If a warm day is forecasted (warm can be 55 degrees with sun... that is down right hot on the blacktop roads), you simply need to accept and adjust.
- Plan out your hydration. Know the location of water stops. Know if you need your own water belt.
- Plan that you will need to take in a little bit more in fluids and electrolytes if the temperature is warmer. Do not go overboard, though! A "little" means just that... a couple of ounces. Taking in TOO much can cause stomach problems or just feel "sloshy" in your gut.
- Because you have been consistently practicing your hydration plan, simply taking in as little as 2 more ounces per hydration station can make a big difference.
- Use electrolytes - PowerGel, and PowerBar Energy Blast Energy Chew are two great options to get in quick fuel with good sources of electrolytes to keep your system in balance. Use what you've been practicing with on your long runs. Don't change on race day!
- Adjust your pace. Once the temperatures start to rise over 65 degrees with the sun out, you should adjust your pace to be about 10 seconds slower per mile for each 5 degree increase. That slight pace change will make a big difference in keeping your body temperature in the correct range.
- Don't try to be a super hero! Take water on the course. Adjust your time goal. Honor the weather conditions. (Note: I tried to be a super hero in my marathon and decided it was a good idea to skip all of the water stations until past 30k... turns out that was not such a stellar idea... I've learned a lot in the last 16 years!).
- Clothing... Remember the rule: don't wear something brand new on race day other than your bib number! That means you need to have tested several different running tops and bottoms to have items for hot weather, normal weather, and cold weather. Stick with what works. Save that Expo purchase for after your race!
- Hats/caps - some people love running in hats. I'm one of those people, along with sunglasses. Key things on a hot day to help you stay cool. Make sure you've done some runs with the hat and sunglasses. Anything feels comfortable walking around or on a short run. Nothing feels good after 26.2 miles. Be sure your clothing is not part of making you not feel good earlier in the race.
Alternatively, you could hit an unseasonably cold day, but you'll be prepared for that just fine based on the winter we just went through.
Whatever the day brings, be prepared and be smart. Planning ahead is planning for success!