A few weeks back we had a bit of a heatwave here in the UK. One day I went out the house and my car read the outside temperature as 41! Here are some tips for training in the heat.
As a triathlete any of my races during the summer have a potential for being hot. If I do an Ironman abroad then it’s pretty much a given that it could be hot. Whenever there’s a heatwave, I view it as an opportunity to get some climatization to the heat. I also view it as a chance to get some experience and learning about how my body copes in the heat and what helps.
Training in the heat will usually feel harder and slow you down. Manage your expectations and plan to do slower and less intense sessions.
Think about the time of day you’re planning to train and if possible do it at a time when it might be a bit cooler.
Consider where you’re doing your session and if there are any possibilities for doing it at a cooler location. One of my clients did her long run as laps round the local woods so there was constant tree cover.
Think about your clothing and make sure you’re wearing something that is cooling. I like to wear a baggy vest in light colours.
Wear a hat to keep the sun off your head.
Take a drink with you even for short sessions. If you’ve got a long session to do, then make sure to take more fluids with you than you normally do. You could leave drinks at your car or on your doorstep and run laps back for more fluids. On a long run I often include a first lap of 5 miles to end up at one of my local parks where there are some public toilets so I can get some more water.
For long rides plan a route via shop/garage/café so that you can refill your bottles and take some electrolyte tables with you in your back pocket.
When I do a long run, I usually only carry electrolyte drink in my bladder pack. But when its super-hot I add a couple of small bottles of water too so that I can us that to help cool my body by tipping it over my head if I start to really struggle.
Make sure that you start your runs properly hydrated and think about your electrolytes. I’m very salty heavy sweater. When I have long session on hot days, I take salt tablets as well as electrolyte drinks.
At some point it’s well worth doing a sweat test so that you actually know what your sweat losses are on a hot day and a cool day. This was a total eye opener for me and really useful for racing. Details of how to a sweat test to measure your sweat rate are here.
I’ve heard some people put start off their runs with ice in their bladder pack and wearing a wet t-shirt to help with the body cool. It’s certainly nice to start off a bike ride with ice in your drink bottles.
You could also leave some wet sponges with your drinks that you can then put under your hat or down your t-shirt. In a hot Ironman race, you’ll often see people with sponges stuffed down their tri suits.
It takes about 10 days for the body to climatise to heat so be patient. In the UK it’ll be raining again tomorrow!