It’s about that time of year here in Texas. The summer months are upon us and the temperatures are creeping up to the triple digits. We have been lucky so far, in my opinion, temperatures have only been up in the high 80’s and low 90’s. Which is still manageable for those of us who train outdoors several days a week. I’m sure soon enough we will be melting in the summer sun.
This will be the first year I’ve trained all the way through the summer. Normally I take some down time, shorten my runs and hit the DREADmill indoors as opposed to taking it to the streets.
I tried cycling outdoors a tad bit last summer before the sprint triathlon I did for my 30th birthday in June. LAWD! Have you ever stood in front of the oven with a fan blowing high speed, scorching, molten lava air in your face? That’s about what it felt like. Not to mention the heat was like a total body blanket suffocating me, squeezing the life force from my body one drop of sweat at a time.
I’m really hoping to do Ironman 70.3 in Austin this October. So, I felt like this year I should really get out there and torture myself in the summer heat.
…..Because who doesn’t love dying of heat stroke a little every day?!
Honestly though, I feel like this is such a crucial time in my training because if I don't get out there on a regular basis and train with the increasing temperatures I fear won't become acclimated to the heat ….. and training indoors can only get you so far.
Which brings me to my next point:
Hydration! Hydration! Hydration!
Hydration! Hydration! Hydration!
I'm always making a conscious effort to stay hydrated [because it does take a conscious effort] but it’s even more crucial right now, in the heat. So much of how well we perform in the heat depends on how hydrated we are. Sweat loss means loss of fluids (water) and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, etc.) which are vital to muscle performance. Without these elements we begin to experience cramping, increased muscle fatigue, and whole slew of issues.
So the question becomes “How do I stay hydrated?” I’ve read so many different recommendations! [Especially for athletes] It’s enough to make my eyes cross.
It really starts with everyday hydration. The best way to ensure you don’t DEHYDRATE during training is to make sure you’re HYDRATED before you begin.
So what does that mean? I'd say you should be drinking about half your body weight in fl oz of water each day. So for example: I'm about 125 lbs, for me that translates into 62.5 or around 63 fl oz, in water, per day. If you’re thinking in terms of water bottles, that's about 4 a day. That seems do-able right? I normally carry a 32oz water bottle with me everywhere I go.
Two of these bad boys sets me up for the day. I try and have one before lunch and another after. Easy to count, easy to carry.
Also, if I know I’m going to be out in the heat training I’ll try and mix up a NUUN or a watered down Gatorade a couple of hours before my workout. This ensures optimized hydration and any hydrating sports beverage would probably be ok (powerade, propel, etc)
The other half of hydration is STAYING hydrated DURING exercise. This is where it gets tricky!
There are many suggestions out there that will give you specific numbers; drink so many ounces every 30 minutes, drink only sports drinks, drink only water, drink to thirst, blah blah blah blah! I have found the MOST success for ME by drinking to thirst. Meaning I drink when I get thirsty.
BUT, ***Disclaimer****if I have learned nothing else in my studies of nutrition, it’s that every individual is different and nutritional needs will be unique to each. So while I can share what works for me, it’s best that you get to know your body and find out what works for YOU.
I carry a small 8oz running flask with me when I run outdoors. Something like this:
It came from a fuel belt I purchased that holds 4 of these bottles. I don’t particularly like the fuel belt because it bounces around so much but it’s also a good option. I drink one of these 8oz bottles about every hour and normally fill the first one it with nuun or a mix of (½ and ½) Gatorade and water before I leave the house. I refill with water as needed.
When I cycle, I carry two bottles on my bike. Generally speaking, I like to keep a water/Nuun or water/Gatorade drink in one and just plain water in the other.
I prefer to keep my sports drinks diluted because I’ve found that my body responds best and seems to have better absorption when I do. If I’m drinking just water, I tend to feel water logged and continually thirsty. If I’m drinking just sports drink, the concentration tends to taste a lot stronger after the first hour…… and though I may be thirsty I can’t seem to suck down any more pasty flavored water. Thus, a mix of half and half works best….For me.
I suggest experimenting until you find what works for you. Pay attention to your body, listen to it. We tend to ignore things like thirst and hunger queues and then we forget what they feel like.
Practice hydration this summer whether you’re here melting in Texas or somewhere else (not dying of heat stroke)….and Happy Training!