“There’s a first time for everything”

I’m no stranger to marathons. With nine under my belt, I’ve experienced a lot, both during training and on race day. But one thing I’ve never experienced until now is a whole new beast: marathon training in the summer.

Winter marathon training – what I know best

Of those nine full marathons I’ve run, all have been in the spring, either April or May. Because of this timing, I’ve only ever trained for marathons in the late winter/early spring. And, as someone who would take zero degrees, clouds, even snow over 75 degrees and sun ANY day, it has been great.

This fall I have, not one, but two full marathons on my schedule: Dick Beardsley on September 9, and Chicago on October 8. I’m hoping to be on the pace team for September’s race and I’m super-excited to be running October’s with my oldest bro; his first full marathon.

With each being exciting for its own reason, my enthusiasm to train is certainly there. I knew early on I’d need to make some adjustments to my training plan to accommodate summer life vs. winter life and that part has gone well. In fact, I’ve enjoyed the shift to more early morning runs. There was even one Friday I got up at 4:15 to knock out my long run – 12 miles – before work – and it wasn’t bad!

But, as someone who would take zero degrees over 75, I’m realizing that aspect makes training for a marathon in the summer hard. In fact, it’s really, really hard. In addition to acclimating my body to running earlier, both for shorter, weekly runs, and my weekly long run, I’ve made a few other adjustments.

Summer marathon training – a whole new game

First, I’ve said goodbye to shyness and braved the shirtless run numerous times. It’s amazing what consistent running in 70-plus degrees and sun can do to a person. Zero fucks are given anymore.

Next, I’ve experimented with a new fueling strategy. Normally, if I’m running 10 or more miles, I would eat a light breakfast and drink coffee beforehand to ensure I had enough gas in the tank to endure the long run. Getting out the door in the 5 a.m. hour doesn’t allow much flex to eat beforehand so I’ve been making it work, successfully running more than half marathon distance on a single Clif block alone.

Finally, water has been crucial – both to drink and to dump all over myself. I’ve started to more strategically plan my routes to have optional water access points along the way, such as supermarkets and gas stations. I’ve also learned that I need to add plenty of ice to my water bottle to have a chance of making it 10 miles without the liquid becoming lukewarm.

It’s funny; people often gasp and are amazed when I tell them I train for marathons outdoors, in the middle of winter – cold, snow, and all. But I’ve gotta say, training for a marathon in the middle of summer – now that’s something impressive. Although I’ve struggled several times and my finish times likely won’t be nearly as strong as if I had cooler weather to work with, I’m grateful for this new experience. I’ve got my eye on the payoff: Getting to run, not one, but two full marathons during my absolute favorite running season. Even more reason to be excited for fall!

Anyone else training for a fall marathon? Which one? Do you have any good tips you could offer me? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your training progress on Twitter and Instagram too using hashtag #wellirl.


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