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Heat Training Tips + Tricks

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Training

We’re reposting this set of tips from last year early, because here in Ontario, it suddenly went from winter to summer overnight, and we know a lot of you felt the heat on rides and runs this weekend!

Summer is here, and training has gotten hot for most of us. After spending the past weekend watching runners suffer through 100 miles of dry 100 degree heat at Western States (and dealing with 20 miles of it while pacing!) as Peter contended with heat and humidity back in Ontario racing night laps of a 24-hour race, we realized it was time to do a refresher on training and racing in the heat. Some of these tips, we’re sure are going to sound obvious. But some may surprise you!

Hydrate and replenish electrolytes during almost every workout

Summer means your hydration and electrolyte needs will increase as you sweat out both at a more rapid rate. That means even short rides and runs require bringing something along for the ride. While a 30 minute run can be done without water in almost any condition, bring a bottle for anything over 45 minutes if it’s hot out (the exact temperature where yo want to start hydrating more seriously depends on so many factors, from the humidity to the cloud coverage to your genetics to your training history, in addition to the actual temp). For sub-90 minute rides or 60 minute runs, plain water is fine, but over that, and you’ll want at least a pinch of salt, if not an electrolyte mix.

Even if you only take a sip or two, you’ll get into the habit and practice of drinking, and that’s going to help on race day. Plus, the better fueled and rehydrated you are during your rides and runs, the speedier your recovery and the less headache-prone you’ll be for that afternoon meeting.

Protect your skin

Whether you’re a fan of sunscreen or long sleeves, protect your skin as best you can for every ride or run. Molly prefers lightweight long sleeve shirts with shorts to avoid back and shoulder sun exposure, and Peter wears sun sleeves on most rides. We both use sunscreen on our faces and the backs of our hands and necks, and wear hats for the run to keep our faces out of the sun. It’s not a particularly sexy tip, but it’s an important one! (And of course, make sure you check that your sunscreen hasn’t expired.)

That said, sometimes it’s nice to just run or ride in as little as possible to maximize the breeze. In those cases, try to stick to hours outside of that serious sunburn window (9-4ish) and still wear that sunscreen!

Time your training—but not the way you think!

On the timing note… Naturally, you may assume that we’re about to suggest that you train early in the day while it’s coolest, or later in the day when the sun has set. But here’s the thing: If your goal is race-based, you’re certainly going to be in a situation at some point where you’re racing during the heat of the day. And if you’ve been avoiding heat at all costs, the uptick in temperature might come as a nasty shock.

It’s all about being smart and strategic here. You don’t need to train in the hottest point of the day every single day. It takes more energy and effort, and it can easily exhaust and deplete you. If it’s your only option, don’t stress about it—just look at that as bonus preparation. If you can time your workouts, doing most of them in the optimal temperature hours makes sense, but try to add in workouts done at the hottest part of the day if it makes sense for you (and obviously, only do this assuming you don’t have any serious issues with heat training or sun exposure!).

If you have a hot race coming up, heat adaptation is going to be helpful, and spending time in the few weeks prior to the race training in hot temps will help you on race day. But again, it can also exhaust you more, so in the days ahead of the race, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself and tapering appropriately, replenishing electrolyte stores, etc.

Embrace it

Remember that in the dead of winter, we’re all complaining about being cold and wondering when it’s going to warm up again. Enjoy this time of year—it’ll be freezing again soon enough!

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