Training in the Heat

It’s starting to get a little warm outside.

I left Boulder the last couple weekends and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee and Austin. In those particular locations, it’s starting to get hot and that is not going to change until Halloween candy starts making the rotation again (right alongside Christmas decorations). Almost all of us (minus my Norwegian triathlete buddies) are going to have to cope with some warm weather training and racing this summer. Below are some tips to help you maximize your training time as the temperature rises.

  1. Train early: I don’t particularly care for getting up early on a regular basis, but the quality of all my training is dramatically improved based on lower temperatures. Keep in mind that training when it is warm forces blood to the surface of your skin and away from the muscles. Less blood to the muscles equates to less training you successfully accomplish.
  2. Hydration: You cannot expect to train with the same amount of fluids that you consume in temperate climates. I start my long ride with three or four bottles on me (two in cages; one or two in jersey) and refill at 2 hours and 3.25 hours (during a 4.5 to 5 hour ride). There is nothing gained by riding “longer” segments if it means dehydration. If you fall behind with your fluids you will lose the session. You don’t have to hang out just because you stop. Just hop off, refill you bottles (or buy some sports drink), and take off. It can be done in less than five minutes both times.
  3. Lower your core temperature after training: After doing long, challenging sessions in the heat I often find myself kicking it on the couch feeling uncomfortably warm. This is because of the training heat from the day and my super-charged metabolism. What I personally do is place cooling/ice packs on my neck as well as holding them in my hands for five to 10 minutes at a time. After a few minutes I feel much better and I repeat the process every 45 minutes or so (as needed).
  4. Indoor training: “I thought indoor training was only for the winter?” Well, in some parts of the country/world that might be the case, but in warm climates it makes plenty of sense to crank along inside air conditioned workout studios. Most gyms keep their cardio areas around 68-70 degrees and this can make a world of difference for your key sessions. Treadmill running might not be the same as running outdoors, but slowing down for the sake of heat doesn’t do much good either.
  5. Plan your season accordingly: If you live in a place that has excessive heat at some point in the year then take that into consideration when planning for key races. Extreme heat will compromise some portion of your training (just as winters do). The more temperate the weather, the more quality training you can achieve. The better the training, the better the race.

Stay cool.