Yes, Train in the Heat
We’re often asked about training outside in the heat. Should you aim to train in the coolest part of the day? Should you skip a workout if it’s super hot out? Should you train indoors instead? In most cases, we love using heat as a bonus training stimulus. In fact, if you can wrap your head around heat being a great tool for you, it actually becomes a lot more pleasant. It’s hot out during your lunch run? Great—your training is more effective as a result. It’s a blessing in a sweaty, sweaty disguise.
Unless a doctor told you not to, it is wise to train in the heat. As with any training stimulus (intervals, altitude, strength training, crosstraining etc) you should gradually increase the loading/exposure. So if it is suddenly hot where you live, don’t do 5 hours of intervals in the heat of the day. Scale down your training and ride easier and consider riding earlier in the day or partially inside in air conditioning and then over the course of several days-to-weeks you will see your body adapt and you will be able to do a more normal week of volume/intensity.
There are lots of benefits to riding and being hot. Exercise makes you hot and makes you sweaty and uncomfortable, so does hot weather and heat ‘training’ methods like saunas and hot-tubs. There are a few common sticking points that athletes have with heat.
- Race day is often hot. Do you want your first exposure to that element to be on race day?
- Be ready for your performance to be lower (just like at altitude) you likely won’t be able to ride as long or as hard. This is normal. Ease into it! I like to consider this as free or ‘bonus’ training time. Training should not always be perfect, a personal best or ‘easy’. There should be hard days (and very easy days).
- Your heart rate will very likely be higher. This is normal as your heart as do more work to send blood to your skin to cool you!
- You will be sweaty and uncomfortable. Embrace this as this is much like a race.
- Use the hot weather as an opportunity to practice your cooling and pre-cooling strategies (cold/frozen bottles, ice socks, electrolytes etc.) and ensure that you are cooling down and hydrating slowly over several hours after your session.
- Don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after, and make sure you’re replenishing electrolytes, especially if you’re a salty sweater!