Tips for Racing in Bad Weather (like Boston 2018)
Don’t let bad running weather derail your race performance!
Here are my top tips to salvage your race when the weather is really, really bad (like Boston 2018).
1. Train in Bad Weather
Nothing says tough as nails like a long run in bad weather. Sure, in the moment it wasn’t fun, but it builds a mental and physical toughness that can’t be produced any other way. Writing for Runner’s World, Jenny Hadfield says, “when the going gets tough, if you can’t answer the [why you’re doing this] question, your performance will suffer”. Training your mind and body to withstand poor conditions in training will make race day just a tiny bit better. If all your running is done in ideal conditions and you’re given a Boston-like day, what will your mental fortitude be like?
2. Throw Time Goals out the Window
Race performances and time goals will be irrelevant. The winning time for Desi Linden in the 2018 Boston Marathon was 2:39:54 – more than 18 minutes SLOWER than Edna Kiplagat’s 2017 Boston win. I’m sure that Desi would prefer a 2:39 time that results in a win over a 2:25 4th place finish. According to Kim Doerksin, writing for Canada Running Series , “Adjusting your race plans and goals … can be enough to salvage a race”.
3. Be Aware of Body Signals
During a race, it’s very important to listen to your body’s signals. You can tell a lot about how you’ll perform based on your heart rate, how much you sweat, and your breathing rate. The way your body responds to the effort you’re attempting to put out can change quickly based on the weather, the course, and where you are in the race. On top of that, the less fit you are, the quicker you’re likely to see the effects of those factors.
4. Build Grit During Training
Seek out harder runs, more challenging courses (think hills or speed work) and you’ll see a higher level of grit come race day. It’s no surprise that the runners who put themselves through more demanding training see greater race results. As Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance puts it, “When you apply effort to talent, you develop skill. And when you apply effort to that skill, you get achievement.” The more you put yourself through during training, the easier it will be mentally to handle challenges during a race.
5. Have a Change of Clothes for After Race
I’m not sure there’s any better feeling than finishing a race and putting on a dry shirt and a clean pair of socks. There are so many great reasons to want to change into new clothes after a race, but none better than “chafing can be uncomfortable at best, and super painful if it morphs into a heat rash or infection”. If you’ve never had chafing before, be very, very thankful. If you have, you’ll know that if all it takes is a change of clothes, you’d be willing to strip down in the middle of Times Square to prevent chafing.
There will be plenty of races in the near future that will have weather similar to Boston 2018’s. Don’t let a very cold, windy and rainy day ruin your race experience. Sure, it will be a different feel (cold and potentially miserable), but there are strategies you can employ in the weeks and months leading up to race day that can prepare you better for adverse weather conditions.
During a training cycle for a race like Boston, it’s imperative that you simulate difficult workouts and running conditions to prepare for the actual race. This will build grit and mental toughness that can bolster your racing performance.
For more mental toughness articles, click the links below: