5 tips for racing in the heat for my 5th consecutive year racing the Torchlight 5k

Summer running can either make or break your fall racing season

There is no doubt it is hot out there. However, the heat should not stop you from running outside during the summer.

In celebration of running my 5th consecutive year of the Torchlight 5k, I am going to share my 5 tips for running in the heat.


20:59 PR

75 degrees

1- Have no expectations or try running without a watch:

you can see here I have no watch on. I had no concept of time. I went 100% off effort. My PR before this was 22:30. I was late to the race and was more concerned with that then my performance. When you take the pressure off yourself, you usually are able to perform better (unless you have a lot of experience racing under pressure and a history doing well). You will likely go out slower and have more in the tank at the end of the race if you go off “feel” than constantly obsessing over the clock!

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20:59 PR

91 degrees (heat index of 97)

2- Sometimes you need to run shirtless or sports bra. 

This was my first race in a sports bra. I am not one to usually race in a sports bra. I save it for when it’s really hot. It can really cool you off by taking off that extra fabric. I encourage you to try a sports bra or shirtless if the conditions at above 85-90. It can really be a game-changer! Even if you don’t like how you look, it’s not about looks; it’s about performance & comfort. You should be proud of what your body can do & wear what makes YOUR body comfortable.

PS to the reader- you look better than you think you do- stop being hard on yourself- you’re amazing!!!

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19:19 PR

75 degrees

3- Place yourself further back at the start & don’t sprint out when the gun goes off

 In a race, it can be hard to not go out “blazing hot” with all the competition and people around you. I recommend placing yourself WELL BEHIND (2-3 min) where you are capable of running in a pack. At the start, I was near people hoping to run 22 mins. Usually people go out WAY too fast especially the first 200 meters of a race.

By placing yourself further back, you are saving yourself from going out too fast. If you feel good, you can always speed up. The worst thing you can do at a hot race is go out too race. You WILL crash and burn 10x harder than a normal race.

Plus it’s 10000x better to pass people during a race than BE PASSED. Try it out. I promise you will like it 😀

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81 degrees

4- Stop “racing” your workouts & going ‘too fast’ easy runs

Are you crushing workouts? Are you running fast a lot? Then on race day, the results aren’t adding up? Typically a sign you need to slow down. Yes, slowing down to get faster actually works. You can read about that here. Sometimes really talented runners will do this to themselves without even realizing it.

Let your body recover on easy days (days after ‘fast running’ or workouts) by going at a minimum 2-3 min slower than your 5k race pace. 

Don’t make your body go to 100% during a workout. Workouts are not supposed to leave you feeling like you have nothing left in the tank (leave that feeling for races only). Workouts should be challenging, but they should be doable and sometimes they are even ‘comfortable’.

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97 degrees (105 degree heat index) 

5- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and eat.

I think people underestimate how much nutrition plans a factor in running performance. What you are eating and drink the 24 hours leading up to a big race, workout or long run can make a HUGE difference.

 A lot of people don’t “plan” for their run. If you know it’s coming up, be smart.

Drink a lot of fluids. Electrolights, water, etc.

Make sure you are eating enough and getting quality food.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do a good job at doing this!

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Victoria Phillippi



Why running slow will make you fast :)

Running slow to get faster seems counter-intuitive, right?

There are many running philosophies out there. 99% of them agree that easy running is the foundation of a training plan for any distance runner. 

“easy running” can create some grey area for runners. What is easy?  Many runners can have a distorted view on what “easy” means.  Distance runners are taught to “push through the pain”. We know how to push ourselves to the limits. Sometimes we are not slowing down enough on our easy days.

Many runners I coach have a tendency to not run “slow enough” on their easy days. Ironically, slowing down can actually be VERY hard for distance runners, but it is critical for improving as a runner.

As a coach, I am a firm believer in the 80/20 rule from Matt Fitzgerald. 80% of your weekly mileage should be run at a slow and easy pace; the remaining 20% is reserved for faster/moderate running (tempos, speedwork, etc). Easy running is generally 65-77% of your max HR. I will go into more detail below

Scientific Studies:

1-“In a 2013 study, the University of Stirling in Scotland had male recreational cyclists follow the 80/20 approach and then switch to 57 percent of their time at low intensity and 43 percent at middle intensity. The gains in power and speed after 80/20 training were more than twice as high.”

2-“Another study, published in March in the Journal of  Sports Physiology and Performance, compared runners logging 30 to 43 miles per week. Half followed 80/20 and the others spent most of their time at middle-to-high intensity. The 80/20 group improved their 10K times by an average of 41 seconds”

Here are some benefits to running slow:

  1. Active Recovery- running at a slower pace helps facilitate blood flow to muscles that need repair after a hard workout (fast running). It will help speed up the recovery process if done correctly. When your heart is working too hard (running too fast), it actually puts more stress on your body and debilitates the healing process. When your body is not able to recover correctly between “fast” running days, it can lead to burn out or injury.
  2. Micro level adaptations- Low-intensity training helps the growth of mitochondria, which helps the body burn fat efficiently. Using fat storages to as fuel will allow your body to become a more efficient aerobic runner. This will allow you to be able to run for a longer time without hitting a wall. An increased capillary capacity so oxygen can be exchanged in your cells more efficiently. This means your muscles can get the oxygen they need to keep running faster the more your capillaries are developed.

Tips for slowing down:

  1. Go off heart rate NOT pace. A good rule of thumb for easy/recovery running is 67-77% of your max HR. You might know your max HR from a workout or many people calculate it by taking 220-*your age*.

Example: 24 year old: 220-24= 196 max HR. Easy pace should be 131-151 BMP

2. Go without music OR listen to slow music when you run. Music has this ability to make us run faster or slower based on the rhythm. Pick something slow and relaxing for these easy days!

3. Run with someone who is not capable of running your “hard pace”. I would recommend running with someone who is 60-90 sec per mile slower than you in races for your easy days. This will help you learn how to slow down and relax on your runs

4. Rationalize it- running easy and slow might feel really weird at first. The stride might feel unnatural, but if you realize there is a purpose behind it, it will help you stay in control! I run a 6:15 pace for a 5k, but I run 9:15 pace on my easy days! Don’t be afraid of ashamed of running slow on your recovery days!

What a 3:14 marathoner’s training looks like:

Workout day:

Hitting 6:30-6:35 pace for 1200 meter intervals

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Easy day:

cruising at 9:40-9:00 pace

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Running the Beer Mile

Back in 2013, I was invited to this crazy event put on by a bunch of UW-River Falls Alumni called “The Beer Mile”.  Since then, I am a 3x beer mile finisher!

What is the beer mile?

Chug a Beer (1)

Run A lap

Chug a Beer (2)

Run A lap

Chug a Beer (3)

Run A lap

Chug a Beer (4)

Run A lap

If you throw up, you have to run a penalty lap!

Running a mile is the easy part- it is the beer chugging and sloshing around in your stomach that makes this event so difficult. My mile PR is close to 5:40. My beer mile PR (from my prime) was 9:55. Running this event in under 15 min is an accomplishment. 

I ran this event for the first time when I was 21 with a 9:55 finish time. I ran it for the second time when I was 22 with a 11:40 finish time. I was nervous to run it this year because I don’t drink beer, ever. I don’t really like the taste of beer. However, I can never say “no” to a running event! 

Here are the official Results from the 2016 Beer Mile:

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As you can tell, there are some seriously fast beer-milers in this group. The winner, who ran 6:03, went on to run a second beer mile 3 hours later. All of these guys could probably beat me in an “open mile”, so I am not too surprised with being 4th to last 🙂 

I always tell new people, “take your mile time and double it- that’s your beer mile time” LOL. In my case this year, it was much more than double my mile time!

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Here is the group after the beer mile! 

My best advice for someone going to run a beer mile is:

1- slow and steady wins the race

2- burp as much as you can

3- do it on a empty-ish stomach