Ever since the 2022 Marine Corps Historic Half weekend hit historically high temperatures, I’ve been thinking about how to conquer the heat and humidity while training for Marine Corps Marathon Weekend at the end of October. I will admit that I’m not a fan of the treadmill, so unsurprisingly I am accustomed to long outdoor runs during the muggy summer months here in Washington, DC. No matter where you live, there’s always a chance you might end up training or racing in unexpectedly warm conditions. Below I’ve collected some of my best tips for training outdoors in the hot weather.
Get outside while the sun isn’t up.
Hot temperatures and high humidity levels are much more bearable when the sun isn’t beating down on you. I make it a point to set a pre-dawn alarm on my long run days and get outside while it’s still pretty dark. I’m always pleased to be heading back inside by 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. when things are really starting to heat up. Of course, this means my head has to hit the pillow pretty early the night before, but if I fail at that I always remember I can take a short nap after the long run is done.
If you are absolutely not a morning person, running after the sun has gone down is also an option. Either way, make sure you wear a headlamp and some lights or reflective gear!
We just talked about running while the sun isn’t up, but chances are you will find yourself dealing with some rays during the longest runs of the marathon training cycle. Wear sunscreen or sun protection clothing with a UPF rating. I also recommend sunglasses and a hat.
This is one of the most helpful things that gets me out the door before the crack of dawn (because I feel like I’ve already done work to prepare, and I don’t want the time I spent to go to waste!). The day or night before my long run, I get everything ready to go—clothes, shoes, hat, headphones, running watch, sunglasses, hydration pack, running fuel, anti-chafe stick, sunscreen, bug spray, headlamp, lights, etc. I also make sure any electronics I need are fully charged. Doing this work the day before allows me to sleep in as much as possible, so all I have to do is wake up, get dressed, eat and walk out the door.
When the heat index is high, it’s not enough to hydrate the day before your long run. Drink water throughout the week. I keep a fairly large water bottle at my work desk during the day and aim to refill it at least 2 or 3 times. If you need additional motivation, try using a phone app to log your water intake or set calendar reminders.
There are a lot of different ways to approach hydration during those long training runs. You may opt for a handheld water bottle or flask, a hydration belt, a hydration vest or a hydration pack. Know that the first one you try may not work for you.
For those of you who don’t like to carry anything at all while you run—and I know you’re out there—set up drop stations along your route where you can drink water. This might mean running loops around your house or where you’ve parked your car. I’ve even seen runners on TikTok who leave full bottles of water in cornfields along their route. Pick a method that works for you and plan accordingly.
I recommend having both water and electrolytes available to you during your long runs in the heat. This is a great opportunity to try the electrolyte product that will be offered on the race course and make sure it works for you. For MCM, this is the Lemon-Lime Gatorade Endurance Formula. You can try diluting it with more water if you find the flavor is too strong for your taste or try any of the other electrolyte products available at your local running shop.
My favorite part of marathon training is the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of a long training run. I like to have something to look forward to once the miles are logged. This could mean booking a brunch reservation at a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try or just taking a long, relaxing bath to decompress following that runner’s high.
While you’re at it, why not make your post-race plans for Sunday, October 30? I’m looking forward to seeing you out there on the course!
Kristen Byers is an MCM four-star diplomat. She’s a dog mom, distance runner and retired roller derby skater. You can find her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kristenbyers) and Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/kristenbyers).
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