With summer now in full swing (well we hope it is wherever you may now find yourself), training in the heat is part and parcel of the game we call Triathlon.
Summer “Heat” Training is when we feel at our best. A daily giant shot of VITAMIN D is just what the doctor ordered for a fresh injection of motivation needed to take your training and performances to the next level. The body generally responds better when warm (that is why we need to “warm-up” pre-train and race). There are of course exceptions depending on where you were brought up and how your body may cope with climatic extremes but on the whole, we all love the heat. We also look a whole lot better with a bronzed tan – come on, who does not take a 2nd look in the mirror during summer time?
Now begs the question, how do we train in the heat? What should you be doing and what should not be done for example.
Before we go into the do’s and dont’s of training in the heat, you need to decide why and what benefits you want to get out of training in the heat. Are you planning to partake in an event that takes places in extremely hot and humid weather conditions? Or are you just wanting to train when it’s nice and hot outside, with no specific reason in place to do so.
- If you know you are going to race in a climate that is HOT and HUMID, then trying to simulate race conditions during your training sessions is the best type of pre-race prep you can do. Whether this just be training during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest or with more specific training methods. Some PRO’s, for example, have done this in the past, and that is to ride a Turbo Trainer out in the sun with no fan on to try and simulate what their bodies might go through on race day. An extreme method of heat training to say the least but it works for them.
- APPLY SUNSCREEN. Such a cliché but super important these days. Make sure you douse all the areas especially those that are often neglected like your ears and top of your hands. So often with that desperation factor to see and get out into the sun, we sometimes forget to apply that much-needed sun-block. Spending a few hours in the sun, training without protection can do some skin damage which we will only truly realise one day when we are a tad older.
- Ease into the heat training. If you come from the colder climes and have just started training in the heat, you may want to reduce the intensity and volume at first until your body adjusts fully to the varying training conditions.
- Be sure to wear the correct apparel for when you train HOT. That means wearing technical apparel and not just your everyday cotton t-shirt. The body needs to cool itself down properly so kitting out in the right gear will go a long way to making the training session safer and a lot more comfortable.
- Keep a sports drink handy at all times. You will need to hydrate continually and more so when training in the heat. Allowing yourself to de-hydrate will not only take away some of the performance gains from the current session but will impact the sessions still to come, either late in the day or the day after. Keep those fluids flowing.
- Don’t over-dress – there is an old school of thought for some that might suggest that if they dress-up for a heat session, they might perspire more and thus lose weight. Not a great approach from a general health point of view. Don’t be that person. Weight loss through losing water and burning fat are completely different.
- If you do suffer from some form of illness or medical condition, you may want to consult your doctor before embarking on a training regime that requires some form of exertion in the heat. Don’t neglect the medical advice – your health is far more important than 1 or two tri training sessions.
- There is a “safe” level/temperature to training in the heat. Monitor your heart rate, check the daily temperature and heed the advice of the medical professionals. Some days might just be too HOT to train out in the open. It might require a little self-restraint and force you to train indoors or somewhere its cooler. Hard to do when the sun is out admittedly.
Research in the past has suggested that training in the heat can, in fact, increase a person’s blood plasma volume which then leads to a better overall cardiovascular fitness level. A sustained regime of heat training can also potentially reduce the bodies overall core temperature, reduce the blood lactate levels and actually make a person perform and train better in colder conditions. There are always going to be PRO’s and CON’s but if it's hot out, we suggest you make the best of the hot/warm conditions and enjoy the training while the sun is shining.
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