Training in East Texas Heat
We all know its hot out and crazy humid! And we all know, we still must train in our remarkably unfavorable East Texas conditions. So, here are a few tips, explanations, and things to watch out for.
The human body is very adaptable to heat training. As you train in hot conditions, your body gets better at cooling itself by increasing blood plasma volume, then sending blood away from heat creating muscles to the skin where it dissipates through sweat. The more heat adapted you become the more you sweat, and you will start to sweat sooner. The average person sweats a liter per hour during training, that is 33.8 ounces. As a Texas athlete, you are most likely sweating a lot more because you are forced to train here and are acclimated to our environment. It is a good idea to perform a sweat test, so you know your sweat rate, then you can replace fluid oz. lost, plus half your body weight in oz., as soon as possible after training. A sweat test will also tell you how much fluid to consume during training. Make sure to add carbs and electrolytes on your long sessions. If you train in a dehydrated state, your heart rate will continually rise even though your pace and intensity have not. This is called cardiac drift and one reason it happens is the heart must work harder to pump thickened blood.
But, because we live in extreme high humidity and high dew point our cooling system isn’t as efficient and sweat evaporates slowly in an atmosphere that is already over saturated. As your core temperature increases your Rate of Perceived Effort increases forcing a slower pace to maintain your target effort. Heat adds as much stress to the body as added miles or faster paces, so make sure you’re not overtraining. Do your hard efforts on cooler days or early in the morning. If heat acclimation is your goal, gradually add in some low intensity training in the heat, just make sure those sessions are not on recovery/ easy days. Heat training is stressful and hard on the body, so think of it like a hard, high intensity session.
To beat the heat, here are some suggestions:
*Train by effort not pace, if your pace is on the slower side, you may even need to switch to a run/walk
*Wear light colored, wicking clothes
*Train early, even though humidity is at its highest, you will be cooler
*Use a visor to keep sun off face, and a visor will let heat escape better than a cap
*Look for shaded routes
*Prehydrate and precool
*Do loops around a location with water and wearable ice (frozen bandana)
*Before starting your long run, drop water bottles along your route
To stay safe, know the dangerous signs and symptoms to watch for:'
*Heat Exhaustion; heavy sweat, rapid breathing, fast weak pulse, headache, nausea, fatigue
*Heat Stroke; rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and vomiting, core temp above 104
*Dehydration; dizziness, fatigue, disorientation
Keep in mind, this summer when all your heat training is making you wilt, you are gaining valuable mental toughness and when things cool off this fall you will be better for it and faster.
Sherril Wade, Triathlon / Running Coach
Ironman Certified Coach