Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beat the Heat!

It's not even Summer yet (June 21) and it already feels like July with this hot/humid weather we're having.  I HATE IT!  For one, I already sweat like a pig when I train in warm/humid conditions and secondly, I can hardly breathe when it's hot/humid.  That is why you will NEVER see me race in July/August when the racing temps are routinely in the 90s.  Unless of course, I can find a race start for my age group/category in the early morning hours when the temps are lower.  Then again, I'm not enamored with getting up at 0400 in the morning to get ready for an 0700 race.  Been there done that for Triathlons.  Yes, I'm a fair weather racer at my age.  After all, if it's NOT fun getting up at 0400 in the morning for a race..then why do it?  And, that's why I train/race on the bike..cause it's fun.  At least the way I do it it's fun.

Enough of justifying why I don't like training/racing in the heat.  If you have to train and race in the heat (like I do at times)..here are some suggestions/tips for you- for performing at your best:

a. become acclimated to the heat.  Gradually work up your exposure to the hot/humid conditions workout at a time...and day at a time.  Most of us work in air-conditioned offices..which doesn't help.
b. begin hydrating BEFORE you get on the bike.  Once on the bike, drink often- at least taking mouthfuls every 15 minutes.  Make sure you take enough liquids with you for the race.
c. ensure the liquids you are drinking are COLD.  If they are cold, you are more apt to drink and your body will utilize the liquids faster.  Throw some ice in your bottles or make a slushie.
d. wear light colors.  I can't tell you how many dark Jersey's/Kits I see out there during training and race day.  Any team that has a mostly all-black kit for racing in the Summer is just NUTS!  (Sorry Garmin-Cervelo)
e. ice your legs, back and neck during pre-race warmup on the trainer (in the shade).
f. hydrate with protein.  Protein helps the body retain fluid.  Accelerade has protein in it.  That's what I like.
g. unzip your jersey.  You won't believe the difference this makes.  You don't have to unzip it completely, just down to mid-chest level.  The airflow will evaporate sweat and cool you down.
h. wear sunglasses with ventilation holes.  It may not increase ventilation around the face/head but it will help clear your sunglasses of fog when you get re-started after a stop on a training ride.
i. wear a well-ventilated helmet.  There are some helmets that provide better ventilation than others.
j. do NOT use sunscreen that will block or impede sweating.  Some oil-based suncreens will do this.
l.  if you sweat as much as I do..you're going to lose a ton of sodium and you need electrolyte replacement: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, etc.  I like Hammer Products "endurolytes".
k. lastly, if you can avoid the mid-day heat..do so.  I like to ride early in the morning. i.e. 0530 til 0730 when it's hot.  Or, if I can't get out in the a.m. I'll ride from 7-9pm in the evening.

I know a lot of racers say that they like racing in the heat.  Well, the fact is: heat will rob you of your power.  So, although you might not feel the affects of the heat as much as others..there is scientific proof that your averaged sustained power will be lower in hotter temps.  If you don't believe me, go out and race a 40k TT in 65F, then do it in 95F and see for yourself.  I'll buy anyone a beer that has a higher averaged sustained power output in 95F heat.  It's not that we lose power in the heat, it's that our body forces us to slow down (or produce less power) to keep from overheating.  It's a thermostat of sorts.  Same reason why we sweat?  It's our bodies way of cooling us down through convective evaporative cooling.  Betcha didn't think your body was that smart eh?

Stay cool! Power ON! Coach Rob

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