Hot Weather Workout Tips
Assistant Editor Jenna Autuori, who is training for a triathlon in the sweltering NYC heat, checked in with Julia Valentour, a certified exercise physiologist and Program Coordinator for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), to get some hot weather workout tips!
1) I've been training for a triathlon for the past few months, and I'm nervous about competing in really hot, humid weather! I don't want to miss the race, but what should if it's 90 degrees or hotter?
Julia: If you're doing all of your training during cooler early morning hours or indoors in the gym, you'll need to gradually get used to training in the heat of the day when you'll be competing. Acclimatization is an important way to train your body to work efficiently in the heat. Normally it takes 9-14 days to acclimate, but it takes less time for conditioned athletes, and changes occur in just a few days. These changes include sweating earlier, sweating more, sweat becoming more evenly distributed throughout the skin, and less sodium lost in sweat (reducing the risk of hyponatremia). Hyponatremia happens when there's not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside the cells. This occurs from over-hydration of water without also replacing electrolytes into your system at the same time.
SHAPE recommends you try a sports drink from Soma Beverage Company's Metroelectro line to stop this from happening.
2) What should I do differently on race day if it is really hot outside? Do I follow the same hot weather workout tips?
Julia: Get plenty of sleep before racing, avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours, stay hydrated and eat well. You can try staying cool by soaking a hat or bandanna in water, then put it in the freezer to wear while training (you can wear the bandanna on your head or around your neck). You can also put ice cubes under your hat or wrap them in your bandanna and wear them as they melt. Mainly, just take it easy and don't expect to get your best time. But know the warning signs of heat stress before you get out there to prepare yourself. These are: muscle cramps, thirst, profuse sweating, fatigue, headache, and weakness. Take a break and stop at the emergency stations along the course if you start feeling this way.
3) How do I stay extra hydrated and energized (especially while I'm on my bike!)?
Julia: Make sure you can carry enough fluid with you to stay hydrated and some gel packs or carbohydrate drinks as well.
Fluid-intake recommendations for exercise:
•2 hours prior: drink 17-20 ounces (water preferred)
•Every 10-20 min during exercise, drink 7-10 ounces.
•Following exercise, drink 16-24 oz for every pound of body weight lost
For exercise over 2 hours, drink fluids containing sodium to prevent hyponatremia. Also, have carbohydrates that can be easily absorbed (such as a drink containing 6-8% sugar) to help maintain blood glucose, sustain performance and prevent fatigue. After working out, hydrate to replace any weight you lost during exercise.
4) What can I do in my daily training to prepare for racing in hot weather?
Julia: Here are a few smart things to remember:
•Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out so the lotion can be absorbed. Avoid sunburn; sunburned skin is less efficient at dissipating heat.
•Wear lightweight, loose fabrics to reflect the sun's rays and to allow air to circulate. Instead of a tank top, you may find that a longer sleeved shirt is better for protecting your skin. Some are even made with SPF fabric and fibers that are made to wick away moisture.
•Wear a hat to keep sun off of your head. Hats with a "sun skirt" can help protect the back of the head, ears and the neck also.
•A good pair of sports sunglasses will help protect your eyes. Wear one that blocks 99-100% UVA and UVB rays for the best eye protection.
•Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids.
One of the most important hot weather workout tips: drink plenty of fluids. Try these Low-Calorie Beverages.