I've heard all the excuses for taking a break from running during the summer months — it's too hot, the humidity is high... and isn't summer supposed to be relaxing, anyway? But luckily, I didn't let these obstacles stop me from training for my first marathon last June. I had wanted to run a marathon for years, and the three months before I started college in the fall gave me a perfect time frame to start upping my mileage for the Baltimore Running Festival in October.
The weather conditions certainly posed a challenge, but I managed to stay cool (enough) y way of constant hydration and light fabrics, and I learned to stock up on sunscreen for longer outdoor runs. Even with the heat, my summer runs quickly became my favorites for multiple reasons. To start, the trails that looked so eerie and dark during the fall and winter stayed sunny and beautiful long into the evening during the summer, making after-work runs a possibility. I also didn't have to lug around the weight of extra layers, and my more relaxed summer schedule lent itself perfectly to even 18- and 20-mile days.
Still, the ultimate reason why summer training is the best didn't reveal itself to me until I ran the marathon in October. The weather was amazing— cool enough to minimize fatigue but warm enough that I could run comfortably in shorts in a tank top — and less importantly, the post-race photos looked great in the fall scenery. Overall, fall was the perfect time to run a marathon, making summer the perfect time to train for one.
I try to remind people of these advantages to summer training whenever I hear the "I'll run when it's colder out" excuses. For those still concerned with keeping cool on 90-degree runs, though, here are a few quick tips to chase away heat exhaustion:
1. Wear the lightest-weight fabrics you own and avoid dark colors like the plague. Attracting the sun is the last thing you need on an already-hot run.
2. Stay hydrated! Drinking water around the clock, and not just before your run, can reduce your chances of overheating. If you want, you can even wear a water pack during your run.
3. Look for shaded trails with enough trees to block the sun. This will make you less dependent on sunscreen before a run (and aloe after).
4. Beat the heat! Waking up early may be painful, but avoiding the highest temperatures and humidity of the day will make your early workout worth it.
With these tips in mind, go out and conquer this stifling Maryland summer. After all, there really is no better time of year to train!
About the Author: Maeve Sheehey
Maeve recently joined the Charm City Run team this summer. She just finished her first year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studies Journalism and Economics. She ran Cross Country and Track in high school at Notre Dame Prep in Towson, and now she trains for distance events. She ran her first full marathon in October at the Baltimore Running Festival and hopes to do more races this year.