It’s been hot recently. Not just here in Florida, but all over the place.
You didn’t need me to tell you how hot it’s been, as it’s likely hot where you are too. I read last week that there was a “heat dome” over much of the United States. Texas hasn’t seen daytime highs below 100 degrees since something like 1942. (actually, more like 30 days). It’s so dang hot that there are heat advisories in many cities every day.
Just Monday, I was in Kansas City. I had planned on going for a run right after work. When I left the office at 6pm, it was 109 degrees out. The dude on the radio said the heat index was close to 116. I ended up running at 10pm, and it was still probably close to 90 degrees.
As we all know, heat isn’t a new obstacle for us to deal with. It gets hot every summer. And, as you know, this general furnace condition typically coincides with peak triathlon training season in most parts of the US. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the South get to deal with warmer temperatures like this seemingly year-round.
So, how do I deal with the heat (and humidity….I do live in Florida after all)? I’ve noted before that I actually sort of like the combination of heat and humidity. That said, there are a few ways that I deal with this. And since I’m not a doctor, please don’t take any of these as science-based….these are my strategies. I would like your thoughts and feedback, though…
1. Acclimation: There’s no denying that your body adapts to heat. Take, for example, those folks racing in Kona every year. Lots of folks travel out to Hawaii for a couple of weeks prior to the race to help get their bodies attuned to the heat. To help me get through this process, I tend to do a lot of training outside as the temperatures warm up. That way, my body generally adapts as it gets warmer. I also train in the heat of the day some. Certainly not every day, but enough that I know what going on a five-mile run in 90 degrees feels like and how my body reacts to it.
2. Selective Scheduling: Now that it’s officially as hot as the face of the sun, I am more selective about when I exercise. While I do some training during the heat of the day, more often than not I don’t go out in the hottest part of the day to do a long run. I have always been fond of evening workouts; some as late as 9pm. Recently, however, I have also started working out early in the morning. I have several pre-dawn bike workouts in the books, and I think I am beginning to like that time of day (now if I could just get my old, lazy rear end out of bed consistently).
3. Water intake: Over the past year, I have drastically increased the amount of water I consume (and consequently reduced the amount of other things – such as soda and tea). I currently consume at least two liters of water each day. Sometimes more. I seem to always have a bottle of water near. As much as I like to sip on it, I find that I’ll gulp it as well – often drinking a third of a normal 16 oz bottle in one swig. I do try to balance my intake by supplementing with electrolyte fortified drinks so I don’t put myself at risk of hyponaturemia…especially when I’m working out.
4. Shade: Shady spots can be hard to come by – especially in the Sunshine State. It’s not as if I swim in an indoor pool or run with a parasol, but I do find ways to keep the sun off of me. I almost always run with a hat or visor. This helps keep the sun off my face, and thus I “feel” cooler. I always run with a shirt on as well. As much as I’d like to be tanned, the technical nature of active wear helps keep me cool. That, and I don’t want to shock and frighten passers-by with my middle-agedness.
5. Cooling down after exercise: This is far more critical for me than you might think. It takes my body a long, long time to cool down after exercise. Especially in the summertime. To help facilitate this, I will often jump into my backyard pool and then get out and stand under the patio ceiling fan. I’ll also hose myself off with the garden hose some. Occasionally I’ll stick my head into the freezer.
6. Cold recovery drink: I’ve talked previously about how I love First Endurance’s Ultragen recovery drink. During the summer, I make Ultragen smoothies…basically I mix up Ultragen as per the directions, then put it in the blender with a bunch of ice. The end product: frozen recovery madness!
Again, these are some of the ways I try to beat the heat. They may – or may not – work for you. If you do something different, please share! We could all benefit.