I think quite a few of us are finding this lovely warm weather a shock to the system. We have had a long winter, not a harsh one, but a long one that found us all still having to wrap up and wear water proofs through april and May.
Our bodies will take a little time to adapt to training and racing in the heat.
Here are a few suggestions to help stay safe and comfortable whilst training and racing in the heat.
It is imperative to keep hydrated and to keep our salt levels (sodium and potassium in particular) up. Here is a link to an article that explains why we need to maintain salt levels http://www.powerbar.com/articles/47/sodium-a-closer-look.aspx
There are lots of electrolyte products on the market eg Nuun, High 5 Zero, GU to name a few that are designed to hydrate us without diluting our essential salts. They are good for hot days for sessions where we do not need calories too, so for example 1 hour run/bike sessions.
Drinking water between sessions is still good and we do not have to replace our normal water requirements with electrolyte solutions.
If you are out on the bike for a long time, put some spare sports drink nutrition in a sandwich bag and take some money to buy water. When you are getting low on drinks simply find a garage and top up with water and use your packed sports nutrition.
Investing in a belt that holds small bottles is great for long runs where you can drink every 15 mins or so. The other thing you can do if you have time is to put water bottles out prior to running along your selected route.
2. Skin protection
When the temps go up I make it a policy to slap on sunscreen after the morning shower. It has been reported that sunscreens work better when applied several hours before exposure. The skin is then protected and then it is a case of topping up before you go out to train/race. I would advise a high level of protection, even in our country, as we are often out training/racing for several hours!
Sunscreen needs to be applied when in open air pools/open water, needs to be water/sweat resistant and needs to be applied even when a little overcast.
There are also arm.shoulder and upper body reflective garments on the market that have a degree of sun protection woven into the material (developed in Australia I believe for surfers and children and have been adapted).
Don’t be tempted to go topless, as the wicking T shirts we train in are designed to keep us cool. If we take them off the sweat tends to sit on our skin thus slowing down the cooling mechanism.
3. Head protection
Hats and sun visors are a real help when running to keep the sun off your head and out of your eyes and can make running in hot weather alot more comfortable. A hat with wicking qualities means you will not end up with sweat dripping off your head into your eyes and sun visors keep the sun off your eyes but keep the top of your head exposed to allow sweat to evaporate.
Again these will offer you some protection from the glare of the sun and reflections from surfaces.
As with all things connected to training and racing, a little bit of planning and organising will go a long way to making training in the heat more comfortable. It can also mean not suffering from more serious conditions like sunstroke and heatsroke.
Enjoy this weather and train/race safe.