Training in the Heat


Em Batger

My husband and I still talk about this one time in Miami about 5 years ago. It was a hot summer’s day and humidity would have had to be close to 100%. We decided it would be a great idea to go for a run along the beach followed by a quick workout at the outdoor gym. What would have normally been a pretty cruisy training session for us was probably the hardest workout I have ever done both physically and mentally. The heat really affected us and we were completely drained for the rest of the day. Now when we are struggling with a hard session all we have to say is ‘just remember that day in Miami’ because honestly nothing will ever be as hard as that.

I’m totally useless in the heat so if you are anything like me, one of the best things you can do is get your training session done before the heat of the day. It’s hard to beat a sunrise session down at the beach followed by a quick dip in the ocean. Not an early riser; then what about an after work session?

If the lunch hour is your only time you may need to consider changing up your training on hot days. Pick a running route that has some shade and isn’t completely on the road as the dark bitumen absorbs heat and this can transfer across to you. Similarly if your doing a circuit session find a shaded park or bite the bullet and join the gym for a few months over summer. The humid days are the ones to watch out for. High humidity means there is more water in the air so less evaporates from your skin which affects our inbuilt cooling system. Essentially our sweating mechanism becomes less effective so it’s probably a good idea to alter your training accordingly.

Stay hydrated 

This may sound super obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t drink nearly enough fluids on a general day let alone when exercising. Being insufficiently hydrated can impair the body’s ability to regulate heat. Add exercise into the mix and you are at risk of rising body temperature and elevated heart rate. If you have a particularly hard session where you sweat a lot you may even think about an electrolyte drink of some kind to replace some of the important minerals that we lose in our sweat.

What to wear?

With so many options for active wear these days its hard to know which brand is best. Choose loose fitting, moisture wicking materials for both shorts and shirt to prevent heat from building up under your clothes. Preferably light colours to reflect the light. Cotton isn’t a good choice because it absorbs your sweat and doesn’t dry. A hat seem like a logical option but remember we lose most of our heat through out head so hats can sometimes make us hotter! (I’m definitely not suggesting you forget your sun safety but just something to be mindful of)

Know when to stop 

If you really don’t want to trade your exercise time outdoors over summer the key is to be prepared to listen to your body. Lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, headaches are all signs you are being a little too ambitious and you need to slow down. Don’t forget that your body will take longer to recover when its really hot so take rest days when you need them.

Some people enjoy training in warmer conditions which is absolutely fine as long as you are aware of how your body is responding. At the end of the day it comes down to doing what you enjoy most and works best for you!

Em Batger

Please note: Em's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.


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