Hot Weather Exercise and Training Tips

Hot Weather Exercise and Training Tips

We are well into the dog days’ of summer! Are you looking forward to an early fall road race or cycling event? Or perhaps a special hike to enjoy fall foliage? Training for endurance or speed during the hot summer months can be a challenge if you are not prepared. Of course bringing your workouts indoors would be the easiest solution, but it may not always be feasible. Plus, you may need to be outside for your longer distance endeavors. We have asked some of our acac experts for their guidance on the topic and they had the following words of wisdom. 

Plan ahead:

Check the weather. Look at weatherbug or other weather apps to find the coolest time of the day, morning vs. evening. While your schedule may dictate your general workout timeframe, you can base your strategy off the temperature expected. 

Drink and eat well. Be sure to drink water often throughout the day. Since everyone’s intake requirement of water can vary by lifestyle and body, we recommend checking out these articles with more guidance:
Runners World: “Drink This”
Mayo Clinic: “Water – How Much Should You Drink Every Day?”
Don’t skimp on food, and avoid over-indulging on sweets and alcohol. Eat the way you normally do (don’t try something new the day before an event.) 

Advice from acac Registered Dietitian Kris Bonham:
What and when we eat can support any exercise, but particularly as we train for an event. The way we choose to eat doesn’t replace training, but what we eat can potentially help or hinder our efforts to improve strength/endurance and avoid injury. Opt for easily digestible foods and beverages when exercising in hot and humid weather. Quick-absorbing carbohydrates will fuel your workout as well as refuel you after exercise, preparing you for your next day’s training.”  
Choose fresh fruits, dried fruit, breads, cereal, rice, or other grains:
• Cereal with banana or berries with low-fat milk
• Bagel or toast with jam
• Fresh peach, plum, grapes, or banana
• Oatmeal with berries or sliced peaches
• English muffin with honey
• Low-fat granola bar
• Crackers or pretzels
• Trail mix of oat cereal (Cheerios, Oatmeal Squares, Shredded Oats) and dried fruit

Experiment with what works well for you. Adjust portions up or down until you feel you can comfortably digest your food before exercise, and also build the stamina you need to run, walk, or swim to the level you desire.

Hydration becomes especially important when you work out in the heat and humidity. You can’t always discern when you need fluid. So, drink 2 cups of water or other fluids roughly one hour before and immediately after you exercise. If you exercise for more than a half-hour, consider drinking, even sips, every 20 minutes during exercise. Losing even a small amount of body fluid (i.e. 1-3% of body weight) can affect your training. Sports drinks with some carbohydrates and added electrolytes can be helpful in high temps or for longer events. Remember to drink fluids throughout the day, as well as around exercise, to stay adequately hydrated throughout the summer months.

What to wear:

When running on hot, sunny days, wear light colored, wicking fabrics. If you can find some that also have an SPF, that’s even better! For a race/event, be sure to try on any new garments in advance to be sure there are no areas that rub or chafe your skin. This includes socks and undergarments as well. “My favorite choice is a loose, lightweight tank, dry fit shorts, a good pair of wicking socks, a visor & sunglasses,” says Personal Trainer Beth Cox.  

If you’re heading out when the sun is down, consider a halogen headlight to reduce trips and falls while running, or bumps in the road if riding. Your clothing should be reflective and bright.

Before you begin:

Protect your skin! Apply a sweat-proof sunscreen prior to heading out. Be sure that it dries before you begin your workout. “My favorite sunscreen is Kiss My Face – Clear Spray Sport 50 or Sun Spray Lotion 50, plus an SPF 100 lotion on my face but not my forehead. I wear a lightweight cap or helmet with visor to protect my forehead. Sunscreen in the eyes stings and can impede your vision,” says Personal Trainer Lise Rowe.

Communicate. If you’re going by yourself, be sure to let someone know your route and how long you expect to be out. Give them an “if I don’t text or call you by this particular time, call or text me to make sure I’m okay.” Make sure to have your cell phone with you and a form of ID. If you can’t carry your cell phone, be sure it is in a convenient place when you’re finished with your workout. 

During your workout: 

Bring water with you! There are many fuel belt options that hold either one large, or several small, bottles of water. Fill the bottle with ice and then water. This will keep the water colder for a longer period of time. 

Even though its hot out, don’t skip the warm-up.  Your muscles still need time to limber up and you should aim for a gradual increase in heart rate. Consider starting out with icy-cold towels or a sports drink popsicle (ideas from Runners’ World) to help keep your core temperature down while doing your warm up. 
Be realistic! Expect that you will move more slowly in the heat. The hotter it feels outside (humidity and how sunny it is), the slower your pace should be. Listen to your body.  Your body will be struggling simply to not overheat, and that will tend to drive your heart rate up. You will need to slow your overall pace so that you don’t push your heart rate up too high. Take walk breaks, water breaks, and choose shadier paths when possible.
Recognize when to stop. Warning signs indicating that you should pull over include dizziness, light-headedness, impaired vision, muscle cramping, excessive sweating or stopped sweating, feeling cold and clammy, or other pains you’ve never experienced. Get liquid, try to cool down, and if available, check with medics at the event.

Contingency Plan: 

What if you get outside and Mother Nature throws a curve ball, for example the dreaded summer thunderstorm! If you are not feeling safe or comfortable to wait it out (or continue in the rain), come to the gym! 
Use the cardio areas. While you may not be able to go for more than 30 minutes on a piece of equipment, mix it up a bit if you were hoping for a longer workout! Warm up on the track if applicable, or on a cross-trainer or step mill. Then hit your bike or treadmill for 30 minutes. Go back to the track or perhaps a rowing machine for another 10 minutes, then cool down. 
Take a class. Cycling enthusiasts, if you were looking for a longer ride, go into the studio earlier if possible and feel free to stay later after the class finishes. Let the instructor know when they come in that you plan to hang around a little later. Pay attention to the instructor’s stretching routine, and mimic that on your own when you are finished your ride. Don’t forget to wipe your bike off when finished. 
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