Heat Training
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Heat Training and Racing

Jakson Badenhoop -- Performance MultiSports

I train in Florida all year, whether it is hot or cold. In fact, I make a point of going out to do most of my longer runs in the afternoons, so that I WILL be running in the hottest part of each day. I usually run on the beaches here, so there is no shade, either. I train all through the Summer, and I enjoy the cooler times of year too, but know that it is the workouts of the Summer that make my cool weather runs even more enjoyable -- and successful.

Our bodies seem to function best at long distance running in cooler weather and we tend to lose part of our performance as the temperature rises above 50 degrees. I have read that we lose about 1-2% of our running efficiency for every 1.5 degrees of increase over 50 degrees (so at 65 degrees, we have lost some 10 percent of our running performance potential... tough to keep up the pace). As the temperature increases, our bodies are using some of our stored energy just trying to stay cool and trying to keep the core temperature down, rather than devoting that effort and energy to the muscles needed for actual running performance.

Hydration is perhaps the most important issue for runners and other athletes in hot, humid weather. It is hard to over-stress the need to drink plenty of fluids when the weather is warm. It just becomes more important as the temperatures climb into the 70's, 80's and higher. Make a  point of drinking 16-20 ounces of water or sports drink of your choice before you go out for  your workouts. I have found that consuming Metabolol II prior to my workouts helps to give me the energy I need for long distance training in the heat. It provides carbohydrates, protein, some vitamins, amino acids, creatine, and other ingredients in the caloric density needed for maximum endurance effort.

Continue to consume at least 10-20 ounces of fluids for each half hour of workout time. Drink water if you cannot take along the fluids you prefer. Perhaps the best choice that I have found is Revenge, since it provides fuel and fluids for your muscles, keeping you going and helping to avoid the "bonk" -- hitting the wall.

Humidity is also a factor and is usually somewhat in proportion to the increases in temperatures here in coastal Florida. For marathons and other long runs in cool weather, I dress in layers, with coolmax close to the skin, so that I can shed layers as I warm up, yet keep the wicking coolmax material to help get rid of perspiration. If it is a hot day, wearing a hat (especially a dark hat) makes it harder for your body to get rid of heat, since we lose something over 70% of heat through our heads. If it is a really cold day, you may want a hat, at least at the beginning of your run. By the way, tucking your singlet into your shorts will mean that your perspiration is funneled into your shorts, rather than dripping onto the pavement. This is one reason you see many triathletes wearing cropped singlets.

When you complete your run or bike workout, don't sit down immediately -- instead, get another 20 ounces of fluids (or more) into your body within the first 10 minutes of the end of your workout. Imagine that your muscle cells are like baby birds waiting for the parents to return with food. Their mouths are open and ready for that important nourishment. Now is the time to feed those hungry muscles.

If possible, make sure that you consume a smart carbohydrate drink such as Metabolol II from Champion Nutrition. Right after I finish a long training run or ride, I usually walk right to the blender in my kitchen, and add:

bullet6-8 ounces of cold fruit juice and water,
bulleta frozen banana or two,
bullet2-3 frozen strawberries,
bullet two scoops of Metabolol II, usually the dark chocolate flavor
bullet4-6 ounces of low-fat yogurt,
bullet2-3 tablespoons of wheat germ
bullet10 cubes of ice, added gradually to thicken and chill

Blend it into one of the tastiest post-workout treats I have found. The best part of this mixture is that it assists with my recovery and gets me going again. The Metabolol provides protein, carbohydrates, and free-form amino acids. The bananas boost the carbohydrates and potassium, strawberries add some vitamins, yogurt adds texture and some more protein, and the ice, juice, and water provide replacement fluids.

As for me, I love to train in the heat and race in cooler, dryer locations (if at all possible). Some of my best marathons and Ultras have come in cool or even cold weather with temperatures in the 35-48 range. Using this simple level of consciousness about training in hot weather has assisted me in improving my racing times during the past few years, in spite of getting older. After training in the heat, I have been able to set new personal best times for myself -- including a marathon PR set at Grandma's Marathon in June 2000! As you can imagine, I believe in training in the hot weather and racing in whatever Mother Nature brings on race day.

Bottom Line:  Train all you can in the warm weather and you can be ready for almost anything when you get to the cooler weather of your planned marathon or other long race.  

Note: To tell us your comments or to be notified about upcoming sports events and activities in the Beaches area, fill out the  Notification Form and we'll add you to the list for timely email or fax notification. If you have ideas for additional endurance sports links and resources, please contact us with your suggestions and Website addresses.

If you are a multisport athlete of any age or ability living in the Beaches area of Northeast Florida, consider joining Beach Endurance Sports Team, the First Coast's multisport organization for cycling, running, swimming, walking, mountain biking, triathlon, walking, inline skating... well, you get the idea. For events coming up in the North Florida area, check out our Events Calendar.

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