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Beat the Heat During a Marathon

This year's Chicago Marathon turned out to be a complete disaster due to the extreme heat because while most marathoners plan for the distance, they don't always plan for mother nature to decide your marathon day is a good day for it to be unseasonably warm. In light of this, The New York Times has a list of things to think about before heading out to your marathon, no matter where it is. There are some things that even I may not have considered, and I am a pretty thorough chick. Here are highlights:

  • STAY COOL. “The day before a race, you want to stay inside, stay in the shade, stay in the air-conditioning,” Greg McMillan, an Arizona exercise physiologist and running coach, said.
  • PACK ICE. The bronze medalist Deena Kastor wore an ice vest before the Athens 2004 Olympic marathon. The next best thing is a bag of ice. Pack some under your cap and in your shorts, suggests ultrarunner Dean Karnazes of California, who has battled 120-degree temperatures at the Badwater Ultramarathon, which starts in Death Valley.

There are more great ideas for beating the heat during a marathon, so

  • SEEK WIND AND WATER. “Normally you hate wind, but on a hot day it helps with the cooling,” said Mr. McMillan. So don’t run behind, or draft, another racer; run into the wind. Look for misting stations, soaking sponges and cups of water.
  • KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN. You will probably feel pain and fatigue; this is a marathon. But if you start experiencing dizziness, headaches, clammy skin, chills or goose bumps, stop at the nearest medical station. “You’ve trained, you’ve paid that huge hotel and air bill, you’ve got your friends back home you want to talk to and say ‘I ran the race,’” David E. Martin, a heat expert and emeritus professor of physiology at Georgia State University, said. “But your training has never gone to waste, it’s maintaining your fitness for the next banana.”
  • SLOW DOWN. Matthew Moran, an exercise scientist and collegiate running coach at the State University of New York at Cortland, said: “In an incredible heat environment, blood is pushed away from the muscles as a cooling method. It’s harder for your muscles to get oxygen, so you have to adjust your pace. That’s the hardest thing — you have a goal in mind and you’re making a conscious decision to run slower.”

    Once the temperatures start climbing above 70 degrees with humidity, most runners should slow their pace by 30 to 90 seconds per mile, Mr. McMillan suggested.

    Mike Smith, a 2:19 marathoner from Flagstaff, Ariz., who plans to run the Olympic trials in Manhattan on Nov. 3, said that if he hears a forecast for the 70s, he’ll discard any minutes-per-mile or final goal and focus on simply finishing the race.

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