Jared Ward's Summer Training Tips

Jared Ward is an Olympian, a professional runner for Saucony and a father of five. He’s also no stranger to running in the heat. Ward lives and trains in Utah, where summer days often reach a scorching 100 degrees.

At the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February of 2016, unseasonably warm temperatures made for brutal race conditions. Ward bested most of the competition and finished in third, punching his ticket to the Rio Olympics.

We sat down with Ward to learn about his training regimen, his upcoming races and his advice on training and racing in the heat.

Jared Ward runs down a palm tree lined pathway.

FF: What does your summer training look like? Where do you run?

JW: The summer is my time to run some shorter distance races and work on my speed a little bit, which is a lot of fun. I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K, I'm running another 10K this weekend in Green Bay and I’ll run a 10K in July in Salt Lake City.

I usually use the summer as a fun time to develop some of my speed before I launch into another high volume marathon season. It’s a fun way to break up training for me. I feel like the speedwork raises my ceiling of potential in the marathon, and then I can work on my efficiency to get up towards that ceiling during marathon training. I’ll be running a marathon this fall, but I’m not sure which one yet.

I live and train in Mapleton, Utah, which is at about 4,500 feet of elevation. Oftentimes I’ll go somewhere even higher, like Park City, when I’m training for a big marathon. There are definitely some physiological changes that happen at elevation, but it's also just a nice mental boost when you go back down to sea level after training at altitude.

Jared Ward runs past some palm trees.

FF: What's the hottest race you've run in and how'd you get through it?

JW: The 2016 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles was probably the hottest marathon I’ve run, but I’ve run some track races that were hotter. You just have to adjust your pace. The longer the race is, the more your pace has to adjust to accommodate for the heat. Your body has to work really hard to keep cool, and once you start overheating it's really hard to reverse that. I think you can also be preventative in your fueling by starting the race hydrated and getting water early on.

When the weather is cool, I approach my fueling just from a calorie standpoint. When it's hot, my focus shifts away from calories to hydration because I know that’s what can break me. I just try to drink as much water as I can handle throughout the race. I’ll grab a cup every time I pass through an aid station, which is usually about every mile, and then grab my bottle at the elite stations every 5K. When I ran my first marathon in 2013, I wasn’t sure how to grab the water cups. My coach told me to come like an eagle out of the sky, squeeze the top of the cup and sip out of the end of it.

FF: What are your tips for training in the heat?

JW: There are ways to trigger your body to adapt to the heat. It can even be done in a week if you’re diligent about it. Before I went down to Rio in 2016, my doctor told me that my body will adapt within a week of being there and running in the heat. So if you have a hot, humid race coming up, the best thing you can do is run during the hot parts of the day. This will help you sweat a little bit more and teach your body to store more water.

You don’t have to go out and do mile repeats or a tempo run during the hot part of the day, just do a little bit of easy running. In the summer, I do my hard workouts in the morning so I'm not bonking and crashing but I’ll do some easy running in the afternoon.

If you live somewhere cold, you can run in sweats or even sit in the sauna. It’s always beneficial to try and simulate the environment you're going to race in, whether it's hills, elevation or heat.

Jared Ward looks into the distance in his sunglasses.

FF: Would your advice be the same when preparing for a 5K or 10K versus a half or full marathon?

JW: When it gets really hot, above 80 or 90 degrees, you could lose enough water during a 5K to affect your performance. But I don't think about hydrating as much during races that are shorter than half an hour. Once you're getting up towards an hour, you have to have a hydration plan.

FF: What is your favorite shoe right now?

JW: The Saucony Endorphin Shift has been one of my favorites for a couple of years now. I race in the Endorphin Pro but I really like training in the Shift. It handles about 70 percent of my training volume.

I've also been a big fan of the Triumph throughout my whole time with Saucony and the new version that's coming out soon is going to be pretty cool. I’ve also been putting a lot of miles in the new Saucony Tempus. I love it. It feels like a stability shoe but it’s really light. There's a lot of exciting stuff coming out of the Saucony pipeline.

Stay up to date on all of the latest Saucony releases by following us at @fleetfeetsports and follow along while Jared trains and races at @jwardy21.

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