It's heating up! Here's some summer training tips

It’s nearly that time of year when we walk outside in the morning and we just feel happy because the sun is shining. While motivation is easier when the weather is good there are some things we have to consider when training in higher temperatures. 

There’s lots of information out there about this topic but let’s be honest - Christchurch doesn’t exactly require sauna training to prepare for the summer temperatures. Some tips I could give you would be to choose a cooler time of day to train, make sure you have the right type of training gear and slather on the sunblock, but today I’m actually going to focus on hydration.

When we exercise, we produce heat and as part of the body’s cooling process, we sweat. Obviously when it is warmer, we sweat more as our bodies try to cool down faster. Unless we replace the fluid we have lost through sweating, we start to dehydrate. Dehydration causes our blood to thicken which means that the cardiovascular system must work harder to maintain enough blood flow. Ultimately, the core body temperature increases, leading to a reduction in both physical and mental performance and potentially more serious problems like heat stress. Wow, I’m getting technical here!

As little as 2% loss of bodyweight through dehydration (for example, 1.4 kg on a 70-kg person) can reduce performance by 10-20%. If this loss increases to around 3-5% it will have a huge impact on your aerobic performance, concentration and judgment - which is something you definitely wouldn’t want to happen when cycling down Evans Pass at top speed.

The thing is, you can’t rely solely on thirst as a gauge for dehydration during exercise as the sensation of thirst can be suppressed during exercise. So what should you do?  First of all, make sure you are well hydrated before you start training, and have a good electrolyte drink on hand during training. These beverages provide sodium which helps your body absorb the fluid and they also contain carbohydrate which provides energy. During your session you should consume 200-300ml of fluid 3-4 times an hour depending on the conditions and intensity of your exercise. Basically, this means you should aim to have a couple mouthfuls of electrolyte drink every fifteen minutes while you train.

If you are going to train you want to get the best results from that session. If you don’t have a good hydration plan, you will be restricted in terms of what your body can achieve and what results you can get. So, as the days heat up, plan your hydration well and you will have a better chance to perform at your best. 

Bevan Eyles