5 Ways to Prepare for Fall Racing Season

Who longs for crisp autumn air during swimsuit season? Runners with a fall goal, that's who. While it may be tempting to kick back during the dog days, summer is the time to get serious if you've targeted an autumn event.

"Staying focused on the big picture is very important," says Pat Henry, head coach of track and field at Texas A&M University. "It's consistency over the long term that matters." Here's how to work training around vacations and sweltering heat so you can have some fun and still nail a goal, run farther, or take on a trail race.

Your Ultimate Guide to Summer Training

Fall Focus: Finish a Marathon

Summer Setup: Runners aiming for a September through November marathon will do the bulk of their workouts in the summer heat. They are likely to face two seasonal hurdles: workouts sacrificed to vacation days, and super hot long runs.

"Missing one day or one week won't affect your training too much," says Jeff Gaudette, owner and head coach of RunnersConnect in Boston. If you miss a week for a holiday, resume training at the point you'd be at if you hadn't taken a break; if you miss two weeks, reduce mileage by 30 percent for the next three or four days, then pick up your training as if you hadn't skipped any runs, says Gaudette. When a long run coincides with extreme heat and humidity, consider moving the run to a different day or splitting it in two and doing the second half of the run on a treadmill in an air-conditioned gym.

More: 12 Fall Marathons

Fall Focus: Fast Half Marathon

Summer Setup: "The keys to racing a half marathon well are having the aerobic strength necessary for a marathon and the speed for a 5K or 10K," says Henry. So if you've got a vacation on the calendar, ramp up both your speed and your long runs for three weeks prior to your break, and use your break to recover, says Andrew Kastor, a running coach for Asics. Active rest, like swimming, yoga, and running easy, will help your body rebuild. If you're forced to do speedwork under the blazing sun, reduce the distance of each effort and increase the recovery time "to let your body temperature drop below the boiling point," says Kastor.

Summer Workouts That Will Make You Faster

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