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Thrive in race day heat

It’s mid-summer, but that doesn’t mean you need to limit your training to 5 a.m. sessions and avoid racing again until September. Here are proven tips for thriving as the temps and humidity soar.

In training

Daily diet is the most over-looked aspect when aiming to better cope with heat during training and racing. Try increasing water-based foods such as fresh fruit rather than dried, and porridge rather than granola. Add salt to your food on days when you sweat heavily. 

If you live in a cooler climate but plan to race in hot or humid conditions, include training days with an extra layer of clothing to increase sweat rate and create the need for more aggressive fluid and electrolyte replacement. Plan to weigh yourself without clothing before your workout, and then again when you return. Aim for a fluid replenishment plan that produces no greater than two per cent loss of body weight during the workout. While there is some debate regarding acceptable levels of fluid weight loss during exercise, by doing this task frequently you will find your own personal level where you feel and perform the best.

While racing

Arrive at the race site up to a week early if possible, especially if coming from a climate with drastically lower heat indexes. Use a salt supplement in the day or two before the race in addition to adding salt to your meals. 

The single best thing you can do to race successfully in the heat is to lower your time-based goals to more accurately reflect the conditions of the day. Just as you would do in the wind, plan to be slower at your race effort versus your speed at that same effort in cooler conditions. Ignore your kph on the bike or pace on the run and listen to your perceived effort or heart rate monitor to let you know that you are indeed going hard and metering out your energy appropriately. The good news is that just about everyone else in the field will be slower as well.

Quick tips for training:

  • To better simulate humidity on the bike, set up your trainer in the laundry room as you dry a load of wet clothes. 
  • Plan to add sodium during practice sessions in the heat to aid fluid absorption. Shoot for 200mg per 225ml of flfluid, and then modify until you find the rate that makes you feelt he best and results in minimal fluid weight loss measured by the post-workout scale.
  • Keep an inexpensive scale in your car so that you’ll have the tools you need for pre- and post-workout weigh-ins when training away from home (please keep your shorts and sports bra on when weighing yourself in the parking lot!).
  • Try to align key race rehearsal workouts with especially hot and humid days whenever possible

Quick tips for racing:

  • Leave the aero helmet at home. Enjoy the better airflow of your road helmet. At aid stations, take an extra water bottle to pour over your head.
  • Race in low-cut socks. High-cut socks can drastically reduce heat dissipation and possibly lead to blisters.
  • Stay ahead of your fluid needs. If you feel thirsty, you waited too long to drink.
  • Visors work better than hats for shedding heat.
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