Why runners shouldn’t fear long miles in the summer heat

Runners gearing up for fall races like the Chicago and New York City marathons are starting to feel the heat of training during the middle of summer – when their longest runs are scheduled during some of the hottest weeks of the year.

But most experts agree that runners shouldn’t sweat over the thought of building all that extra mileage in steamy weather, claiming that it really just boils down to teaching the body how to adapt to running in the heat and knowing when to tweak a training schedule.

“I think runners should be flexible,” said Roberto Mandje, an Olympic distance runner and head coach for New York Road Runners, host of the TCS NYC Marathon, a 26.2-mile course that snakes through each of the city’s five boroughs in November.

“Runners should learn to temper their expectations, and not live or die by one training plan.”

By that, Mandje means that runners need to consider extreme weather conditions before each run, and be willing to alter the plan if necessary. For example, if it’s too hot to maintain the recommended pace on a training run – say, 8 minutes per mile for 15 miles – a runner could shorten the distance to 14 miles so as to compensate for losing as much as 30 seconds per mile.

“In the end, you’ve worked just as hard,” said Mandje, adding that runners can practice their race pace during other intervals in their training. “I think it’s more important to focus on effort and time.”

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