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Training for a Destination Race : Climate, Terrain, Altitude (Coaches Corner)


Tis the season that many runners will find themselves training for a destination race! From cold climates to warm for Run Disney or warm climates to cold, flat to hills, hills to flat, sea level to the mountains, join Running Coaches Corner this week to learn how to best prepare yourself for the changes.

A number of my “big” races have been destination races where I have flown in for the race, meaning that I trained under completely different conditions than those I found the day of the race. I trained through a Chicago winter (not as bad as the winter preceding that year or the one that we are currently in, but still, #winterwarrior) for my PR marathon in Phoenix. I have several clients right now trying to make the most of their winter training in preparation for races in drastically warmer clients, but it is also worth noting that the scale can tip the other way–I’m looking at all of you Floridians, Texans, Arizonans, etc–who come up north for destination races. While it is generally claimed to be easier to run a colder race after a warmer training, that doesn’t mean that doing so will be a cakewalk. 

Don’t miss my Year in Running Recap!

Either way, there are some steps you can take to help yourself acclimate and prepare for changes in terrain so that you can perform as well as possible the day of your race. 

Training for A Destination Race

When Training for a Destination Race, how do you prepare for different climates, terrains or altitudes? Coach @suzlyfe and Running Coaches Corner to the rescue!



Bottom Line, and yes, this is obvious: Try Your Best to Mimic Race Day Conditions During Training.

That means:

Training for a Hilly Race When You Live in A Flat Place

How do you do hill if you live in a flat area? Hill Treadmill Workouts: benefits of running hills on the treadmill, tips for getting the most out of your treadmill workouts and alternatives if the treadmill isn't an option.

There is a post for that 😀 HERE IS HOW

Preparing for a Flat Race When You Live in the Hills

Find a ridge or set of flats, or do some time on the treadmill. Work hard on learning how to activate your glutes as you run: if you live in a hilly place, your glutes might activate automatically as you go up and down the hills, so make sure that you know how to mimic that feeling on flats as well. When you run a long, flat race, your glutes might go to sleep–you will need to wake them up midrace! If you plan on running Chicago and live in the mountains, this is your kryptonite.

Preparing for a Hot Weather Race When You Live in A Cold Climate

There are a couple of different options here. I readily credit my ability to handle temps in the 60s rather than the 15-30s that I ran my long runs during Phoenix Marathon training to the fact that I ran about 40% of my runs on the treadmill. In so doing, I mimicked the race conditions because the temps in the gyms that I ran in were 65-70*F, and varying humidities due to the types of heating used. I ran my long runs outside as much as possible (I only had 1 long run done inside), and thus prepared my muscles and tendons for “real” running. But every time that I ran inside, I was essentially climate training. 

Having fun on a cold and blustery day is the mark of a true Chicagoan!

Even the thought of doing this hurts.

But you don’t have to rely on just the treadmill for heat training. Sure, you can wear #alltheclothes and overheat yourself, but that really isn’t going to do the trick. Instead, try to take a hot yoga class every week. Not only is this going to help you develop stability and provide numerous other benefits (see this post for more information!), but it will help teach your body to regulate its temperature under strenuous, hot conditions.

Training for a Cold Weather Race When You Live in a Hot Climate

This is going to be a little tricky; you can get up at the a–crack of dawn, you can plop yourself on the treadmill with fans and a/c going. You can shove ice in your shorts. But most importantly? You work on what you are going to wear, your warm up for the day of the race, and you go as prepared as possible. And you do all the other things, but really, dressing properly and knowing how to keep your muscles limber is going to go a long way.

Training for a High Altitude Race

There are a few schools of thought on this one, but you best option is to either arrive 1-2 weeks ahead of your race to give yourself time to acclimate and get over any altitude sickness, or you basically show up and race and don’t give yourself time to go through the headache etc (and taking advantage of your pre-hydration). You can even wear one of the Bane masks occasionally as you train, but do so gradually, and do not rely on the mask. Also, be aware that these masks have arguable efficacy. 

The Phoenix Marathon is a fantastic Boston Qualifier marathon or Personal Best course! |

I’m elite in my mind

In a best case scenario, you would have 2 weeks to spend in your destination area and acclimate by running outside. Life doesn’t always go that way, so you have to be crafty and prepared when training for a destination race! 

Racecation! Training for a destination race in different climates/terrains/altitudes! #runchat #coachescorner Click To Tweet

Planning a destination race? If you are planning a race in condition different from your training conditions, we need to talk! @Suzlyfe Certified Run Coach

Got a destination race coming up? There is a coach for that! Let me help you minimize training headaches and have the best destination race-cation of your life! Email me or check out my coaching page for more information on my offerings and rates. This would be the PERFECT present for the runner who has “everything.” I now offer a new consultation option as well. 

Have you ever trained for a destination race? What the biggest challenge?

What is your first race of the year?

And now it is time for Running Coaches Corner!

It's time for #Running Coaches Corner! @coachdebbieruns @Running_onhappy @loramarie03 Click To Tweet
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I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday. 

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