Spring and summer marathon season is in full swing for western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh weather can be really unpredictable and downright challenging for outdoor races. But if you trained for your race, you are probably going to run it regardless of what Mother Nature has in store, right? After months of prep, training, and sacrifice, I’d like to think nothing short of a hurricane could keep me from running my planned event on race day.
Many runners start checking the forecast up to 30 days out from their event in an attempt to predict weather conditions and prepare for them. We hope for nothing but ideal conditions and the best temperatures on race day. But we all know anything is possible at this time of year. Here are some tips for weathering the storm, so to speak, in case Mother Nature decides to rain on your parade as you head to the starting line.
Running in the rain
You may have loved playing in puddles as a kid, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you are about to run your race. In my opinion, rain is probably one of the least of detrimental possibilities. But it can also be one of the most challenging because you can’t stay dry, which can cause other issues.
- My number-one tip for running in the rain is to always try to stay dry as long as you can before the race starts. Try a poncho or garbage bag to cover yourself at the starting line and remove it right before the start.
- Wear a hat with a brim to protect your face and sight lines as you run.
- If you are running a longer race, like a marathon, consider having friends or family about halfway through who can help you swap out for new socks and shoes. This can help prevent blisters and sloshing feet.
- Running in the rain means there is a possibility of chafing. Use BodyGlide or Vaseline on any parts where you could blister or chafe. I suggest inner thighs, feet, sports bra lines, and nipples for men.
Running in the heat
It’s flat-out challenging to run in the heat, and it’s one of my least favorite of the elements to run in. You need to be careful to avoid things like heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sunburn. Here are a few helpful strategies to set yourself up for success!
- One of the most important things you can do is adjust your expectations before starting the race. Know that your performance may be lower, and that you may need to stop more often to hydrate and cool.
- For clothing, you want to think protection and also light. I recommend always aiming for a SPF that’s going to protect your skin and then pile on top loose fitting, moisture wicking, and light-colored clothing. Always top it off with sunglasses to protect your peepers.
- Hydration and fuel are extremely important in the heat. Many races have water and sports drink stops every mile, so make sure you use them to maintain your electrolyte levels.
- Finally, in extreme heat pour water on yourself at water stops and take ice or sponges if they are available. This will help cool your body temperature and help you stay on track to finish.
I hope that you never need these tips for race day — but realistically, the weather is always changing and it’s important to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way this spring and summer.
How do you prepare for unexpected temperatures or conditions? Leave your comments below!