Training and Racing in the Heat

As we enter racing season and ramp up training, we are beginning to see summer weather make an appearance all over the country.   Often in the early part of the season, we have a few days that are much warmer than our normal spring weather.

When this happens, we need to be able to adjust to the conditions of the day and make decisions based on the weather and not our expectations of performance.  A few tips for having success in the heat:

  • Hydrate well in the days leading up to the event.  Pre-event your urine should be translucent pale yellow.
  • Use RPE and heart rate as a guide to how your body is responding to the effort.   Your pace may be slower than expected given the conditions of the day.  Don’t chase a specific speed or power.  Reel in the expectations with the weather
  • Make sure you have enough sodium and calories to support the additional stress on your body.  This means making sure you are drinking (and eating enough).  It’s always better to bring an extra bottle, handheld, or a snack rather than find yourself in the middle of nowhere without liquids or fuel.
  • Take every opportunity to cool your body (shade is your friend).  If you are racing, take ice and or cold water and dump it over your head and on your body.  You can also place ice under a hat, in your tri top, or down your shorts to help cool.  Placing ice in your shorts is especially helpful as it helps directly cool your blood via your femoral artery.
  • Once you finish a hot training session or race, have a recovery drink.  Regardless of how well you may have fueled during the race or training session your body is still likely depleted.  Plus liquid is a lot easier to stomach than solid in hot whether.
  • Finally, know the signs of heat exhaustion (common signs include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, headache, and cool skin with goose bumps even in hot weather).  If you are exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, stop exercising, get yourself to a cool place, and drink liquids with electrolytes.  If symptoms don’t improve, it may be time to see a medical professional.

The first few hot training sessions and races of the season can be frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re not able to train or race to the best of your ability.  Don’t worry, as you acclimate to the heat speed will come back — its just takes the body some time to adjust to heat and humidity.


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