Skip to content

Marathon Training In Heat And Humidity

     I want to share with you today some tips for marathon training in heat and humidity, especially when doing the long runs that you have to do for marathon training.

    Before we get into the facts around how to best do your marathon training in heat and humidity, let’s start with what should be pretty obvious…

    But as they say, common sense isn’t always that common 🙂


    Stay Hydrated And Wear The Correct Clothing.

    Hydration, of course, is obvious. You should always take hydration with you. You should always take enough liquids with you and not just water but drinks that will replenish the body salts you will be losing through sweat. 

    Plus, if you like me and have limited hair on the top of your head, then a cap or something to protect yourself from the sun is an obvious point to make. But it is surprising how many people don’t do the obvious and then complain about the impact of the heat on their running.

    Be Honest About Your Present Caperblities To Handle Heat.

     Make an honest assessment of yourself and where you are in your marathon journey. 

    So, mainly if you’re training for an autumn marathon, there is the risk that you may be doing long runs, particularly in the heat. Or if you’re like me in the UK, where we all go crazy the moment he gets hot, you may not be so used to the heat. So, depending on where you live and your present running ability, you may well adapt well or not so well to the heat. 

    So, for example, if you’ve never run 16 miles in your life, and suddenly, you’re going to be facing 16 miles in high heat and humidity, then the best thing to do would be to reschedule that run or shorten it. 

    Or if you’re like me, where you’ve done a lot of training in the heat, you know, your strengths and weaknesses. Then it’s more about adapting to the heat. 

    One of the things I like to point out to people is to remember your why, not the way you’re doing the run, but more the reason you’re doing that specific workout. 

    So, for example, when you’re doing a long run in training for a marathon, you’re why for that is that you’re doing it to build up endurance and time on your feet. 

    Keep in mind that when the weather is hot and humid, looking at the time on your feet is a better metric than getting too obsessed with distance.

    Use Perceived Effort Instead Of Heart Rate And Pace

    Another area I would say is don’t focus too much on heart rate and pace when running in the heat. The reason for this is your body does not recognise pace. So you could run at a pace you’re generally comfortable with, but it becomes tough to maintain that pace in the heat. Instead, consider perceived effort your best metric when running in the heat. I’ve got another article on running zones that explains this much better. 

    Heart rate can also vary and drift, particularly in extremes like heat. So you’re much better off focusing on your perceived effort. 

    So, for example, I have perceived effort zones from one to five. This run I did recently was 18 miles, and I decided that I was going to run in an effort zone of two. So I kept to that effort zone and checked in now and again with my pace to see how I was doing. But my primary metric was always actual perceived effort instead of a heart rate or pace. 

    Get Up Earlier To Run

    Another area I look at is getting up early- Mind Over Mattress. If you get out early, you’ll be able to get the best part of the day as far as temperatures are concerned. Don’t wait till later in the day just because you want to lay in bed for an extra couple of hours. 

    Spread Your Runs Over A Week

    If doing a long run is just too much in the heat. You can split your runs over a week. Then you could break up your runs throughout the week. Still have time on your feet spread across all your runs throughout that week.

    Meaning that you could do a shorter run on the long run day, meaning that overall, you’ve done the right amount of hours on your feet building endurance; however, you haven’t had one big run, say a 13 or 14-mile run, in one go, which means you’ve been in the heat for less overall time.

    Take Into Account Terrain

    Another area is the terrain. Look at what your geography is like. Is it the best terrain for a hot day? Could you change the terrain you are running to benefit you more in the hot weather?

    Some people even run on treadmills in hotter weather.

    Use Walk Running

    You can also look at walking and running. I know many runners don’t like walking, but I’m not talking about a trudge of defeat here. I’m talking about a strategic way of running in the heat. Your walking will depend on your ability to adapt to heat. So recently, on an 18-mile run, I did four quick walks of about two minutes throughout the 18 miles to get in liquids to bring my heart rate down and relax to limit the impact of the heat on me as I ran. 

    What You Do The Night Before Your Run Matters

    Also, be mindful of what you do the night before you run. If you drink a lot of alcohol the night before, you’ll end up dehydrated before you even begin. Get to bed early if you can. If that’s too much for you and your long runs, generally, a Sunday and Saturday night is a night you like to relax, drink, and stay up late. Then try and change the day you do your long run to a day where you can perhaps drink less and get to bed reasonably early. 

    Running In The Heat Is Not All Bad

    Benefits Of Running In Heat And Humidity

    And finally, don’t always look at heat as a negative in the running. It’s only if you’re unprepared or not used to running in the heat. There are a lot of positives to running in the heat. It’s like if you were running with rocks in a rucksack; when you take that rucksack off, it’s a relief, and if you adapt to running in the heat, then when it’s cooler, you feel that you can run faster, a lot more easily. 

    Think of running heat like any training stress; it’s all about the correct dosage to get the best adaptations from your running; too much and the heat will be a negative, however, take the heat into account. Running in the heat can be a way of strengthening your running.

    So if you’ve got used to running in the heat, it can become a positive factor that you can use to adapt and become a stronger runner. But you have to respect heat; if you don’t appreciate it, then that’s when you will get into trouble.