on heat and hydration…

I have such a love-hate relationship with July. And mid to late summer events, for that matter. There’s no doubt that the start of actual summer-like weather makes training and triathlons easier in a lot of ways. It’s a pretty safe bet that from now until October, I will probably not have to worry about planning a training workout around rain or otherwise foul weather (I did say probably…).

Here in the Inland Northwest, we generally have 2-4 weeks of really, truly HOT weather. The number of times we break 100 degrees can usually be counted on one hand. But our hot weather has come early this year – a week ago, we jumped straight from 70 to 95 in a matter of two days and haven’t dipped below the mid 90s since. Not that I should complain. I’ve been more than ready for sunshine and blue skies for MONTHS. But I digress.

Most reasonable people spend these scorching days submerged in water – floating lazily in an inner tube down one of our rivers or on one of the many lakes. Me, I have the distinct (mis?)fortune of being in the midst of training for a summertime 70.3 Those of you doing the same or something similar know that when these hot days come, we must spend the time acclimating ourselves. Because lord knows, come race day, it’ll be 95 degrees out and we’ll have no choice but to deal with it. Better to give our bodies the chance to get used to it.

Saturday was a scorcher and that is an understatement. Seriously. And from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I was out in it. During the nearly 3 hours I spent on the bike, I was thankful that I had remembered to apply sunscreen on my arms and face. But I still got a mild sunburn on the side of my thighs, adding to my rockin’ bike shorts tan lines. Note to self: remember to apply sunscreen before the race and stash at transition area for “just in case”.

I’m working on fine tuning my on-the-bike nutrition and always have to make a conscious effort to eat, eat, eat when I’m on the bike. Note to self: make sure that whatever you bring to refuel is tolerable when it’s warmed up! Some gels are really pretty gross when they’re warmed to 90 degrees… but some are ok – apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gels taste like warm apple pie! And espresso flavored GUs also seem pretty normal at 90 degrees… I guess because coffee is often served warm so the temperature matches the flavor. Or something.

Bicycle water bottle

Bicycle water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then of course there’s the issue of hydration. As you all know, the hotter it is, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish – both fluids and electrolytes. On hot training days, I really have to make sure I’m carrying enough water. Or that I have a plan for refilling often enough. I drink quite a bit cause I’m a big sweater… so I need to have quite a bit of water on hand or a lot of planned water stops. The problem with carrying it all is, of course, making sure you have enough water bottle holders on your bike (or you could carry a Camelbak or some sort of hydration pack) and also that the water will heat up the longer that you’re out. The other day when I was out, I was definitely drinking really warm water, which makes me not really want to drink it. Race day is generally a different story with water stations, but it’s definitely something to think about. Note to self – try this: freeze some water bottles the night before the race. Stash them at transition and pull them out at T1 and T2 (depending on how hot and how long the race is).  And also, find some better insulated water bottles. Pronto.

photo from: guysandgoodhealth.com

Post bike/post run, basically as soon as I stopped moving, sweat just poured off of me. How the heck was I going to cool down? The last late July race I did, I jumped back into the lake following the run and sat until I could get my core temperature back to normal. Fortunately, there was a river alongside the trail I was riding and running on, so immediately after I finished running, off came the shoes, the tunes and the sunglasses and into the river I went. I sat and I floated and I cooled off. No better way in the world to do it. Note to self: pack a cooler with a post workout water bottle! And only work out near cool rivers and lakes!

Just a few things to think about…after this weekend and also after today’s toasty midday run, I’m reminded that hydration issues can definitely derail my race day. So as much as I’d prefer to skip the midday 90+ degree workouts, practicing and adjusting my race day strategies and hydration has to be part of the training plan. For a few more weeks, anyway.Do you have any special tricks for dealing with the summer heat?

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2 thoughts on “on heat and hydration…

  1. I’ll never again complain about the “warm” days we have here! Seriously though, it sounds like you’ve got your training sorted. I guess the hot weather training will acclimatize your body to the heat (as much as you can).

  2. Thanks John… I’m glad I’m faking it well on the training side at least! It helps that this is my second go-round with the 70.3 distance and I have years of road races and competitive sports under my belt, so I like to think I’ve learned a bit from my previous experiences and that helps a lot.

    I’ve heard it takes roughly 2 weeks to get acclimatized though I know I personally never really feel like I’m used to it! All we can do is keep plugging away and hope it’s working, right?! And you’re right, absolutely – we should never complain about “warm”! And by the way, congrats on your successful long run the other day 🙂

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