Tropical destination races are one of the best ways to have a vacation and also stay fit. But before you fly to paradise, make sure you've got your marathon strategy down. Gina Harrison, assistant race director of competition for the Reggae Marathon (my first tropical destination race — read my Reggae Marathon race review here), offered her advice on staying safe and comfortable when you're running a race in hot conditions.
Get used to it: If you've trained for your race in crisp temperatures, then the effect of the heat and humidity can be a shock to your system once you're on the start line. Make sure you become comfortable with running in warmer weather by replicating some of the conditions at home. "Get used to building up a sweat," Gina said. "I would definitely do some indoor running, fully clothed, to get your body temperature up."
Hydrate before: Like with any race, hydration is important — and it's especially so when you are losing lots of sweat while running in hot weather. Preparation is key; you should start your hydration program two to three days before the marathon, Gina said, and get serious the day before. Staying well-hydrated in the days leading up to your race will help ensure you don't dehydrate on the course.
And during: Once it's the big day, make sure you drink a mixture of water and, if offered, electrolyte-rich sports drinks from the water stations to ensure that you replenish what you're losing from sweating so much. Gina recommends that race-goers take small sips of two to four ounces of water or sports drink when they need to ("keep it evenly balanced" between the two, she recommends); you don't have to take water from every station, but make sure that you stay adequately hydrated by drinking every 15 to 20 minutes.