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Training in the Heat

The following email went out to our coached athletes last week as temps hit the high 90’s from coast to coast

Many of you have reached out in the past couple days with justified concerns about training in the heat. As there seems to be no end in sight to the heat that many of us are experiencing from coast to coast I though I would send out a mass message addressing the topic.

STAY SAFE
– Most important, stay safe. Don’t be a hero when the temperatures rise. Sacrificing a day of training may be the best idea. As I have said over and over, listen to your body. When you need to call it quits, do it. Any signs of heat exhaustion should prompt an immediate end to your session. This includes serious cramps, headache, dizziness, irregular heart rate or abnormal fatigue (source: WebMd and Mayo Clinic). And, not to be your mom, but your cell phone might be your most important piece of gear if you need to call for a ride home or worse.

PLAN AHEAD
– Look at the forecast if you have a key workout ahead. When I lived in Florida a 4:00 am wake up was standard to get the miles in before the sun came up. Again, use your best judgement as to what will work for you.

TRAINING INDOORS
– While this may be necessary, it is not ideal. Riding your bike on a trainer is fine. However, switching from months of running on pavement to running on the treadmill could have a huge impact on your stride and work muscles and joints in ways they have not been worked in a while. Cut your workout short before moving to the treadmill when possible.

HYDRATION
– Remember that hydration starts the day prior to when it is needed. The night before and morning of your long hot sessions should include increased water and sodium intake. You can check your hydration strategy by weighing in before and after your workout. Any weight loss over 1% should cause you to adjust your hydration program for the next session.

SODIUM
– A prominent USAT Elite coach at the US Olympic Training Center has been known to recommend as much as 5 grams of sodium per hour during intense exercise. That’s right, the equivalent of sucking down three Ramen noodle flavor packets per hour. While this is more than I am comfortable recommending to the average athlete, the point is that you need some amount of sodium when training at a higher volume and/or intensity in the heat. Water alone will not cut it.

ALCOHOL
– Even one or two beverages can cause mild dehydration. Be smart by avoiding alcohol the night before your long sessions.

CALORIC INTAKE
– In an effort to cool down, blood moves away from inner organs to the skin’s surface. Combine this with the blood already drawn to working muscles and there is not much left to surround internal organs used for digestion. The end result could be a decreased appetite or outright intolerance of solid foods. Be sure to have a Plan B for calories on your 2+ hour bricks. When in doubt, keep it simple and focus on liquid calories.

RECOVERY
– Exercising in the heat puts stress extra stress on your body. You might find that you do not bounce back from training in the heat.

There is a time to eat right, avoiding high-sodium processed foods and train through discomfort. This is not one of those times. Be safe out there and call me with questions. As always, this and future updates will be posted to the blog so be sure to hit the Logout button in Training Peaks to make sure you’re not missing other announcements.

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