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Running A Hot Weather Marathon When Training In the Cold

BY Hal Higdon

Running a marathon in warm weather can be problematic if you come from colder climate. Hal gives his advice on how best to pace your effort to optimize your performance on race day.

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am running a warm-weather marathon this Sunday after following your Novice 1 training guide. All of my long runs were run at much lower temperatures, so I am concerned about the hot weather. I did a negative split with my 20-miler, and it went great but I am wondering if that is still a good strategy for the actual race, given the heat I will encounter the last hour. Is an even pace better than a negative split? I have run one other full marathon trying even pace, but developed knee pain and fatigue halfway through. I am hoping for a much better outcome, weather or not.


Negative splits, or at least an even pace, works well for warm weather too. If you go out too fast, it will cause your body temperature to spike, much more so than if you went out at a more moderate pace. Once the body settles in at a certain temperature level, it is very unlikely that level will drop. So you’ll be carrying a somewhat elevated temperature all the way through the race. Thus, by the time you arrive at that critical last hour, you will struggle home with at least a slightly higher body temperature than if you had gone out with a more controlled and moderate pace.

A lot of factors contribute to success in warm weather marathons. In the recent telecast of the Olympic Marathon Trials, I noticed several of the runners using ice vests to keep their pre-race temperatures low. Knowing what and how to drink probably is more important to managing body temperature, but the smartest runners use any trick to get to the finish line looking and feeling cool.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.