For many runners, race day is a special day.
As such, few things are more frustrating and/or demoralizing than ridiculously hot weather on race day.
Many goals, especially time-based goals, go right out the window when it’s a hot race day.
But that doesn’t have to mean all is lost for the day.
Make the Best of a Hot Race Day
As race day approaches and the forecast is less than favorable, it’s only natural to be a bit frustrated.
Sadly, the weather is one of thing that is well beyond our control, so the quicker you can let go of the frustration the better.
So what do you do at that point?
I suppose not racing is an option, but more than likely you’re still going to run, right?
Here are three suggestions for turning lemons into lemonade on a hot race day.
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Work on Pace Control
If you struggle with pacing on race day, Lord knows I do, a hot race day can be the perfect opportunity to work on that.
When the pressure of a PR or other time goal has been removed, you might be more willing to hold back early in the race when you’re feeling good.
If all goes well, this could be a massive boost for you going forward by proving to yourself that by holding back a bit in the early stages of a race, you’ll have plenty of gas in the tank to really finish strong at the next race when, hopefully, the heat isn’t as big of an issue.
Set a Fun PR
A hot race day can give you the opportunity to have a completely different race experience than you’ve ever had before.
Instead of pushing yourself to dig deep and hammer, maybe this is an opportunity to push yourself to relax and have fun.
If a spectator has a dog in tow? Stop and pet the pup, and maybe even collect a slobber kiss or two as you’re heading out.
Enjoy the scenery, maybe even stop for a few photos or just take in an incredibly scenic overlook.
Take up the offer for a shot of fireball or mid-race beer if anyone is passing them out.
Point being, if you were racing racing? You probably wouldn’t do any of these things because of how it could impact your finish time.
But on a hot race day, when the goal is to have fun?
Giving up a few seconds for a great memory or fun story is well worth it.
A hot race day can go from a frustrating race day to something much more serious pretty quickly.
We’ve talked about heat illness lots of times in the past, and the fact is that heat illness can escalate quickly.
Sometimes the best way to get over your frustration of how the hot weather is impacting your race is to stop worrying about your race and make it your mission to look out for others on the day.
If someone is struggling a bit? Slow down and run (or walk) with them a bit to make sure they are ok.
Maybe you share some of your water, if you’re carrying it, with another runner in need.
Heaven forbid, if someone takes a serious turn for the worse you can call 911 right away.
Hopefully, none of that proves necessary, but making your focus for the day helping others is a great way to feel good from the start to the finish no matter how hot it might be.
(Maybe) Just Go for It
This last bit requires a lot of nuance and a fair bit of self-discipline, so it may not be for everyone.
Call me crazy, but just because it’s hotter than “ideal” doesn’t mean you can’t still throw down like a boss out there.
If you’re well trained, and especially if you’re somewhat used to running in the heat, opting to go for it on a hot race day isn’t a terrible option.
Stranger things have happened than a runner surprising herself/himself by running strong AF on a day when conditions are far from favorable.
And this is where the nuance and discipline really comes into the equation.
With regards to the temperature, how hot are we talking? And how long is the race?
It’s obviously a lot easier to hold it together for a hot 5k than it would be for a hot marathon, simply due to the distance covered and time to completion.
And both 70F and 90F would qualify as hot running weather, but clearly they are not the same level of hot.
On the discipline front, if you decide to roll the dice and go for it on a hot race day you need to be willing to throw in the towel if things go majorly off the rails.
Maybe that means walking it in for the last half (or more) of the race.
Maybe that means a DNF.
Going for it on a hot race day absolutely brings both of those options much more into play, and you need to be ok with that before you decide to throw down in the heat.
It Is What It Is
Sadly, hot race days are a thing we have to deal with on occasion.
It’s not ideal, but there’s nothing we can do to change the situation.
So do your best to change your perspective and plan for the race, so that race day can still be the fun and exciting day that so many of us really enjoy!
How Do You Handle Hot Weather on Race Day?
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