Beat the heat with these proven but rather unusual cooling events
— By Dan Way
Why is riding or running in the heat so hard? The reason you struggle during a hot, humid training session is that once the body’s core temperature rises, it triggers physiological responses like an increased sweat and heart rate to bring it back down. Staying properly hydrated is the first and foremost important tip when it comes to training in the heat, but it’s far from being the only thing you should do. Here are some other suggestions:
Get up early or stay up late
We all know that the temperature is highest in the early to mid afternoon. On some days, riding or running between noon and 3:00 p.m. is just plain dangerous and should be avoided if at all possible. Working out early in the morning (before 9:00 a.m.) or later at night (after 7:00 p.m.) may be the simplest way to avoid the hottest parts of the day which will also be the least ideal for those workouts.
If you can’t find time to get all your miles in one go, consider doing two shorter sessions in a single day. Rather than running for an hour or more at once, break your usual run into two parts doing one 30-minute run in the early morning and a second 30-minute run later in the day. For riding, consider hopping on the trainer for part of your session to avoid being out in the heat for an extended period of time.
Triathlon gear has come a long way and some pieces are now designed specifically to keep you cool while out moving. Moisture wicking fabrics, UVA resistant materials and brighter colours are all advances made by clothing manufacturers to help keep you cool. Investing in a few specific articles of high quality running clothing can make a big difference to how you feel while out on a run.
Pre-cool your clothing
It may sound silly but putting a shirt or hat in the freezer for a few minutes before a hot ride or run will keep cool in the early kilometres.
Slushies, ice cubes and super-chilled beverages
Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is essential when a hot workout later on will cause plenty of sweating. Another way to keep your core temperature in check is to literally cool it down with cold beverages. Stop for a slushy at a gas station mid-ride, have a pre-workout slushy, or chomp on some ice cubes, to help delay the time it takes for your body temperature to rise while out training. For pre-workout techniques, try one of these in the five minutes before you head out.
It’s the piece of advice you don’t actually want to hear but one of the best and most effective ways to have a more comfortable workout is to simply slow down and adjust your effort for the conditions. This isn’t hard on an easy or recovery day but it’s still necessary for workouts and races too. Always listen to the body. If you feel dizzy, nauseous or unwell, stop and seek medical assistance.