July 1, 2008 posted by

Training in the Heat

It’s been hot lately. Really hot. Like North Pole hot. Okay, maybe not that hot, relatively, as there is still more snow in our mountains than there is covering the pole, but hot.

Dealing with heat is an entire other training paradigm. Environmental conditions force stress on the body just like training does. When you change conditions you need to account for it or you’ll overtrain quicker. I wrote an article a couple weeks back on avoiding heat exhaustion. Here is is.

For extreme training it’s even tougher. It’s hard enough to fuel for threshold training and competing when conditions are good. When they’re bad it’s much trickier. of course, there are examples of athletes succumbing to the environment in stories throughout the ages. And it still happens, even with today’s knowledge.

Of course, the main thing to consider is hydration. But what’s different for athletes than normal folks is the extreme amount in which you need to fuel yourself differs. Water and salt needs can far exceed the RDA and your “8 recommended glasses” per day. Try sticking to this amount during an Ironman on a hot day and you’ll wind up in the med tent, if you’re lucky. You’ll probably die. During a typical bike race during summer you’ll go through between 1,000 and 2,000 mg of sodium per hour. And you’ll be unable to drink enough water to stay hydrated either, which is at least 3 16 ounce water bottles per hour!

Enabling yourself to stay cool is another factor. During Floyd Landis’ attach on stage 17 in the Tour de France and couple of years ago he dumped ice water over his head constantly (there were something like 150 water bottles in his support car). Each time he did the wattage he was able to produce increased. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have someone to follow us around with ice water during the summer, so staying hydrated is vital, as is giving yourself some time to adapt to weather conditions.

Anyway, all this stuff is harder when the temps first change. It takes you body at least 5 days–and longer to become fully conditions–to adapt to hot (or cold) weather change. So during these transition seasons training can seem miserable, and you need to be careful.

We’ve been putting in some good heat training lately. I’ve been riding most days, often during the heat of the day, as well as drinking and eating about 10 times as much salt and water as normal. Still, I’m on the verge of cramping during the end of every long ride. Romney and I put in 6 hours on a 100 degree day on the tandem and have felt pretty wasted ever since. But the body is adapting to the heat and each day I’m affected less and less. Soon I’ll be able to hammer in the heat like a polar bear.

pic: Romney hydrates atop Emigration Pass

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