Marathon Training Diary, Week 5: Dealing with your environment

1 August 2016  |  Alex

There's a reason that the vast majority of marathons are run in either spring or autumn, when the weather is not too hot and not too cold – running in the wrong environment can be horrid. Anyone who is in the least bit active (and a fair few people that are mostly inactive) will have realised that it has been uncomfortably warm over the last couple of weeks. There's always a temptation to say "it's impossible to run in these temperatures and anyway, I'm not going to be making any gains if the conditions aren't right," but this is the last thing you can do when you're in training. Training for a marathon (or for any serious race) is all about taking the unexpected as it comes and ensuring that you can rise to meet the challenge.

It is easier said than done though, so exactly what do you need in order to overcome your environment while running?

How to Deal with Your Environment: 5 Top Tips

Tip 1: Adapt

Whenever mother nature throws you a curveball – whether it be unseasonable heat, snow or an unforeseen tsunami – it's important that you adapt to the challenge rather than try and make the challenge adapt to you. If you were thinking about going full pelt after a new 5k record on a day that happened to send the mercury soaring, it's probably wise to reassess your goals and take things at a more leisurely pace. If you usually run in the afternoon but are finding it too hot, why not try run in the evenings or mornings instead? Don't let your routine compromise your performance.

Tip 2: Always Have a Back-Up Plan

If you're planning on running a route that may be made treacherous with adverse weather (e.g. a trail that becomes slippery with the rain), perhaps there's a road route that you can do instead? It's an old adage but failure to plan is planning to fail. When you need to get those weekly miles in order to keep your momentum going towards a marathon, you can't risk getting injured or missing a crucial run. If conditions get so bad that you can't even venture outside, why not consider running on a treadmill?

Tip 3: Run Smarter

You can't change the weather but you can change how you deal with it. The smarter athlete knows that seemingly small changes can make a huge difference to your performance – the chances of you making a 10% gain in one fell swoop is fairly small, the chance of making ten 1% gains is a lot easier and has the same overall result. What sort of products can help you make these sorts of gains? Maybe something like our Think Summer range of products for beating the heat, for example.

Tip 4: Don't Underestimate Your Circumstances

If I had a penny for every time that I had thought "it's not too hot to run right now" or "I'm sure that it's not too dark to go out without hi-vis clothes" only to be proven wrong... I'd probably have less than a pound in all honesty, but it's still quite a few times! When it comes to safety, it's imperative to err on the side of caution and to ensure that you've got everything that you need in order to stay safe. Learning to judge when it is and when it isn't safe to run is a huge part of being able to see your training through to completion.

Tip 5: Never Give Up!

I'm not going to lie to you – it's not nice running in the rain, nor is it nice running in the blistering heat or the cold or the dark. If you wait around for the stars to align, for all conditions to be absolutely conducive to running, you're going to be waiting a long time. Running a marathon is a commitment and part of that commitment is doing things that you don't want to – it never gets easier waking up early to go out in a torrential rainstorm, but it does become easier to understand the necessity.

My Week in Running

Having talked about the dreadful impact that poor weather can have on your running, this week, the conditions were pretty much perfect for a long run: overcast, neither too warm nor too cold and a little light rain in places – not enough to slow you down but enough to keep you cool. This week, however, I did suffer an indignity that rarely befalls me when running – I absolutely hit the deck, scraping my knee and elbow and severely bruising my ego. Fortunately, it was a brush-offable type of injury and there were not too many people around to see. In terms of distance, this week I managed to cross the threshold into 30km, which I always think of as the line between going for a fairly long run and starting to really amp up the distance.

Top 5 Running Songs of the Week

Nena – 99 Luftballons

This week, I thought I'd go for something a little different with my Top 5 Running Songs that aren't in English. Firstly, this Cold War-classic from West Germany (or the bad side, as I like to call it). Nuclear annihilation has never been so catchy!

Os Mutantes – Bat Macumba

To be quite honest, I'm not sure whether this song is in Portuguese or just a load of gibberish. Either way, it's infectiously catchy and got the sort of samba beat that can get your feet moving.

Niagara – Quand la Ville Dort

Translating to "When the City Sleeps" (GCSE French don't fail me now!), I like to imagine that I'm running off into the sunset at the end of an eighties John Hughes film when listening to this. For bonus points, it's got those Vapewave synths that are pretty in at the moment, proving that if your music's good enough, it becomes timeless.

Pixies – Oh My Golly!!!

Apparently, the Spanish that is on display in this song is not all that (but when I can't really say anything other than "camara de terciopelo" who am I to judge?). Who cares about correct Spanish pronunciation when you've got a tune like this though?

Sergio Mendes – Mas Que Nada

Finally, another little trip back to Brazil (rather fitting with the upcoming Olympics) and this time a more classical take on Brazilian music. This song is beloved by me mostly because I remember the advert with all of the Brazil team having a kickabout in the airport (I'm a sucker for a good advert).

Come back next week when my topic will be how to get better at running when you're not even running.

How do you cope with the heat/cold/dark/wet when you're running? Let us know below!