Training and racing in extremely high temperatures
June 25, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.
The temperatures across South Texas are typically blazing hot in the summertime.
Recently, temperatures have been hovering just above the 100-degree mark.
For many, this merely means you either forgo a workout or just plan to take your usual indoor exercise class, but, for many, there are triathlons remaining on the racing schedule - many of which will take place in these hot and humid conditions.
So, what is an athlete to do?
Intensive preparation, including acclimatizing yourself to the conditions by training in the heat, as well as particular attention to the fluid and electrolyte requirements you require, all help in preparing you for an upcoming race.
Failure to listen to your body carefully while training and racing in the heat, however, could lead to major complications, including muscle cramping, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
In the worst case scenario, death could even occur if there is not proper attention given to training and racing in the heat.
When training outside in high temperatures, bodies cannot dissipate heat as effectively. In addition, while training and racing in the heat, the body responds by being able to redistribute blood flow to working muscles more efficiently, which in turn increases sweat production.
Therefore, attention to hydrating properly with both the right amounts and the right types of fluids becomes important.
Acclimatization involves slowly increasing the intensity and duration of aerobic cycling and running in hot conditions over several weeks.
Keep in mind, if you plan to acclimatize and train in the heat, your body will need more rest afterwards and will also need significantly more salt and fluids in the hours immediately after your workout. You may also want to plan your training so a long workout outdoors is followed by a few days of less intense and shorter workouts outside or perhaps move a few workouts inside in the days immediately following a tough workout in the heat.
Also, let go of the gold standard when looking at your pacing during workouts, especially interval- and tempo-based training.
The pacing times you maintained during the winter and spring months may not be a realistic goal for the summer months.
Pay attention to heart rate and perceived exertion. As temperatures rise, so will your core temperature, which will ultimately affect heart rate and the level of perceived exertion you will feel. Go with how your body feels instead and back off on your pacing if heart rate is elevated beyond what is normal for you.
If you plan to continue training in the high temperatures we are encountering, attention to fluid and electrolyte replacement is crucial in your training plan.
Always make sure that when exercising for more than an hour in warm conditions that you consume a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Also, when preparing to compete during the hot summer months, make sure to increase your salt intake several days prior to racing and also ingest equal amounts of water and sports drinks.
Training in hot conditions is a necessary component of preparing to race in similar conditions. For those of us living in the Crossroads who race triathlon, racing in the heat is also likely.
Taking the necessary steps to plan out your hydration plan can not only help you perform better during training and racing, but could just save your life.
LOCAL RACING RESULTS
Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon: John Klemczyk, 1:30:47 (6:56/mile average), 4th 45-49 age group; Shannon Jones, 1:52:44 (8:37/mile average), 186th 40-44 age group
Ironman Coeur D'Alene: Travis Yarbrough, 13:50:48: 2.4-mile swim, 1:32:44 (2:24/100M); 112-mile bike, 6:59:25 (16.0 MPH); 26.2-mile run, 4:56:39 (11:19/mile), 201st 35-39 age group, 1320nd overall.
Missy Janzow received her B.S. in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and owns Fit4U, a personalized coaching and nutrition business that serves to train the novice or seasoned triathlete or runner. You can reach her with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.