Hoping for cooler conditions won’t help you for most summer races. You can’t control the weather but you can control your training. So how do you acclimate to hot weather races before the big day?
Talk to different coaches about heat acclimation and you may get different techniques. Some are based on science and some are based on anecdotal evidence. Either way, here are our top strategies if your race is likely to be fiery!
- Mimic the conditions during training: Bike trainer sessions in the “heat.” You can manufacture the heat or feeling of humidity by wearing an extra layer inside for a treadmill or trainer session.
- Find opportunities to feel the sun: Schedule some of your long runs closer to race day during the mid-day sun. You don’t want to feel the sun “burning” you for the first time on race day by doing all your runs at 5:30am. Instead, use training opportunities to test sport sunblock you might want to apply, your visor/sunglasses combo, etc. (does the sunblock sting your eyes?; does your visor/glasses combo make you feel cool or hot?; are your glasses sufficient to block glare and not get foggy?; do you need to switch to a cooling headband, etc.)
- Sauna please: Do sauna sessions 2-3x/wk for about 4 weeks pre-race, with no sessions the week of your race. Typically athletes fit this in after a swim session simply because of co-location. Take plenty of water in with you and sit in the sauna for about 15 minutes after your training session.
Final thoughts – your focus on heat acclimation will come in the final months of training. Don’t try to do all your base sessions in the heat, that won’t help! But do think about nutrition and hydration very early on in your training. If your race promises to be sweltering you’ll need a plan you test and train with early on to get enough water, electrolytes and especially sodium in your body. Will you take salt pills? Bumps of base salt? A pre-mixed combination like Infinit, EFS PRO, etc.? Think ahead and you’ll have confidence when you reach the start line you’ve done all you can to beat the heat.
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