Tomorrow is the inaugural Santa Rosa (CA) Marathon and we've been having unseasonably warm weather here in the SF Bay Area. The forecast is a high of 78 this Sunday and I hope the weatherman is right because it was 104 here in Redwood City yesterday and is expected to top 100 again today.
Some quick tips for the 499 other runners joining me for this event, or anyone else planning to run a hot weather marathon:
* Bring your own hydration - while most marathons are well supported with water and sports drinks at water stations every mile or so, you really don't want to rely on this service. First off, you may need a drink well before the next water stop and second, as people who ran Chicago in 2007 learned, on a hot day, they may just run out of water. I run with an Amphipod Hydraform. It slips over your hand so don't have to grip it throughout the run and is form fitted, rather than round like other bottles, so it is much more comfortable to carry.
* Eat regulary - If you have a routine of taking in nutrition every 30-40 minutes or so, such as Gu Energy Gels or PowerGels, stick with it. The heat will drain your body of nutrients and you'll need this replenishment, even if you aren't hungry. Definitely don't wait until you are hungry; by then it's too late.
* Extra protection against chafing - If you are prone to chafing in certain areas take extra protection because the heat raises your level of sweat and increases your risk of rashes and rubbing in these areas. It goes without saying that you should be running in wicking technical fabrics like quality Sugoi Ts andshorts. Take the extra step of applying Body Glide to your sensitive areas and nip guards.
* Keep your heat releases uncovered - During exercise your body releases heat through the top of your head, cheeks and hands (among other places) so consider a visor instead of a hat. If you do wear a hat be sure it is a light-colored (or white) running hat made from a wicking technical fabric and is porous throughout the top so it lets your head breathe.
During hot runs, they often pass out cool wet sponges in the latter 10 or so miles. These can really help bring your core temperature down so take one if you are feeling really hot. I like to press them to the top of my head so the cool water runs down my head in all directions and gets down my back a bit. These sponges are preferable to running through sprinklers or having someone hose you down because you don't want to get your feet wet. This can lead to chafing and blisters.
Hope this is helpful and that you have successful hot-weather runs. Got other tips? Share them here.
James is a Sugoi Brand Champion, serial marathoner and running coach for Team in Training. He's attempting to be the first person to complete all the Rock n Roll Endurance Series events in 2010 - 7 marathons and 4 halfs. Follow him on Twitter at RnRJames.