Training Tips for Dealing with the Summer Heat

Thursday, August 2, 2012 by Coach Kevin

It’s summer and the heat is on!

As triathletes we’re also in the thick of training for races. So with the temperature outside exceeding triple digits, what should we being doing differently? Well there’s quite a bit of “do differents” in this heat.

Training in the heat takes more energy than training in milder temperatures. Some of you may be wondering what happened over the last month to your strength and endurance. What happened to it is that your body is spending energy to cool itself down, which is energy a month ago you were using to move yourself forward. This extra energy expenditure means that it’s somewhere between 10 and 20 percent harder to train in the heat than in cooler temperatures.

Worse yet, the effects of heat are cumulative when you’re training hard. In other words, the more you train the more the heat stresses your body. This translates to longer recovery times in between harder workouts. It also means that you can put yourself into an over-training mode and never recover with only short recovery periods. If you’re unlucky enough to push yourself to the point that you’re tipping into heat exhaustion, it could take as much as a month to recover even if you back off on your workouts.

So what’s an athlete to do short of moving to Newport Beach California where it’s always 72 degrees?

Watch for signs of heat related fatigue. Are you continually fatigued more so than a month ago? Is your performance of each consecutive work out getting worse? While you’re working out, are you cramping or having trouble thinking/making decisions? Are you drinking enough WATER?

Look, you’re going to feel the effects of heat. But what you want to do is protect yourself against is letting the fatigue get too far out of hand. To do this, try backing off on the amount of time you spend in the heat by doing some of your workouts in the morning. For long rides, start early in the morning and end your rides before 11:00. For runs find routes with lots of shade. End every work out with a cool soak. Find indoor tracks for runs or stair running rather than performing intervals outdoors. Get your trainers out again and take one workout a week out of the heat and on the trainer.

The summer heat can be a real detractor from optimal performance. But with a little self awareness and forethought, you can beat the heat.


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