Summer’s here – Tips for training in heat

Tips on Heat Training

If you have no choice but to run during a very hot part of the day, I recommend scaling back both the intensity and the duration. There are no fitness or adaptation gains to be realized by frying yourself in torrid conditions – to do so is unhealthy.

Cycling will be more forgiving than running when it comes to training in the heat. Indoor sessions should always have you using a fan for cooling. Outdoors you will need to be much more aware of taking in sufficient liquids.

In the face of oppressive heat, common sense should always be exercised – pace is diminished, joy of riding is gone, feeling dizzy > get off the bike and into a cool pool or lake! Again, there are limited fitness gains to be realized in extreme hot weather conditions.

But how will I adapt?

Certainly you will want to experience exercising in warm/hot conditions, but you can realize a general adaptation without exercising during the hottest parts of the day, and without putting yourself though a race exercise in these same hot conditions. Mornings and evenings will still be warm enough to get a heat training effect, but without having to go to unhealthy extremes.

In the years that I raced Hawaii, I typically trained in Spain where the weather was cooler in the month before the race. One week advance arrival was plenty enough time to adapt to the island’s harsh conditions, and where I cycled briefly during the day, and ran only at night.

This common sense approach worked fine in terms of heat adaptation. On the other hand, I was always amazed at how many folks could be seen pounding the sizzling pavement far from their starting point with the sun high in the sky – talk about misery and gathering negative sensations.

I find practicing Bikram yoga to be a great one-stop shopping experience for strength, balance, flexibility, and heat adaptation. This 90min sequence of poses/stretches/rests is conducted in a heated room. Bikram studios can be found almost anywhere these days.

Sauna sessions can also provide heat adaptation. If you have a sauna available, I highly recommend its use as a recovery tool at the end of a workout day. General protocol is to sit where you break into a full sweat and then contrast this with either a cold plunge or a chilling shower.

Allow your body to cool after the shower or cold plunge, and then repeat the sequence.

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