Summer is in full force, days are longer, and temperatures can get up to 115-117 degrees in my home town. Training in the heat is inevitable and in some cases practically unavoidable (I live in Las Vegas where heat is “normal”). If you are faced with training in the heat there are a few things to consider keeping yourself cool and safe while training.
Allow time to acclimate to the heat. There are many variables (what type of climate do you live in, fitness level, etc) it can take a number of weeks to acclimate.
The sun is at it highest point between the hours of 10am and 4pm. It is best to avoid these times. Early morning is the coolest as evening will have more ambient heat. Always wear sunscreen and reapply (I use Raw Elements USA, all natural and reef safe, can be applied over sweat). Wear white or light UV protective clothing (the Coolibar cooling fitness shirt is a perfect example) to reflect the sun’s rays. Dark colors absorb the heat. Wear a hat or visor, and UV protective sunglasses.
Slow Down. Train based on effort, how the workout feels, not with time/pace in mind. As heat rises, your pace will too. Heart rate and dehydration affect the body during heat. Your heart will be working to keep your core temperature down with less blood flow to the extremities. Help keep the body cool by pouring cold water over the pulse points in the wrist and back of the neck. Also pouring over the top of the head. A majority of the body’s heat is released through the top of the head. That being said if wearing a hat be sure to wear a ventilated one so heat can escape and is not trapped. There are cooling neckbands you can wear. In extreme heat situations I have frozen wristbands and worn them and continued to pour water over them. The absorbent nature keeping the cool water on my pulse points. I have participated in extreme heat races (the most recent was 110 degrees at the start of the race) and they have provided ice towels and cooling stations.
Dehydration contributes to an elevated heart rate. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Know your sweat loss rate. Weigh yourself before and after a workout to know how much sweat you lose and replenish with this amount as well as taking in electrolyte sports drink (Nuun and Generation UCAN hydrate are my preference) during activity. Cramping is a sign of mineral loss so make sure you are taking in an electrolyte sports drink to keep you hydrated and replenish minerals lost in sweat.
Be aware of warning signs of heat stress and have an emergency plan in place. Carry a phone, wear an ID bracelet (1BandID is my personal favorite) with emergency contact information.
Warning signs of heat stress and heat related illnesses (dehydration, hypernatremia, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps) include but are not limited to: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, confusion, cold and/or clammy skin, fainting, fast or weak pulse, hot red dry or moist skin, and even unconsciousness.
Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with playing it 100% safe and taking your training indoors. You won’t skip a beat in your training and you can train safely without worry of sun damage and heat related stress and illnesses.
I say this often: “Hot summers equal fast falls”. Make sure you play it safe and most importantly respect the heat.
*this post can also be found on the Coolibar Sun Protection blog, an original article written by me for Coolibar UV Protection clothing* (this post has been slightly edited from the original post)