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Recommendations for Training or Racing in the Heat

triathlonnutritioninheat.jpgCheck out Bob Seebohar's article from the latest USAT Multisport Zone on 3 ways to beat the heat.

It's getting warmer! Heat, sometimes combined with humidity depending on where you live, can throw you a good curve ball during these summer months of training and competition. We have all heard stories about athletes being taken to the hospital during a race for dehydration, or collapsing before the finish line or seeing white spots with a tongue feeling like sandpaper. I will say that those are extreme cases and ones that can be easily prevented with a little know-how nutrition for the heat know-how.

Sweat rate can increase up to 2-3 times in hot conditions. The risk of developing a heat illness increases dramatically and the body processes nutrients differently when the thermostat is turned up. All of these can lead to lousy training sessions or DNF's during competitions.

Use the following nutrition recommendations to make your next quality training session or race in hot and possibly humid conditions a more successful venture.

Goal #1: Hydrate correctly. This is one of the toughest goals because it sounds so easy to do yet when it gets warmer, it is difficult to realize that fluid needs are increased. Add a little humidity so the evaporative cooling effects are less efficient combined with a higher sweat rate and this spells disaster for many athletes. I would argue that most DNF's during summer month competitions are dehydration related.

Even though fluid needs will be higher, it is often difficult to consume more due to the heat, the shunting of blood and the body's inability to process a significantly larger amount of fluid entering the stomach. When the body's core becomes warmer, it effectively distributes the blood to the skin in order to dissipate the heat. This also redirects blood from the gut which can significantly impair your ability to digest and process the fluids you are drinking. If the environment is humid, it decreases the evaporative cooling mechanism as I mentioned earlier, which leads to a higher body core temperature which in turn leads to you not wanting to drink more to stay hydrated because you are either too hot to drink or because your stomach cannot process more fluids due to the reduced blood flow to the gut.

Either way, dehydration is inevitable. I would recommend beginning a pre-acclimatization process at least one month before competing in this type of environment. Wear extra clothes during outdoor workouts or travel and do some of your training sessions in a higher environmental stress. Using space heaters and a humidifier works well also if you cannot travel. Practice your normal fluid intake during these training sessions. Your body will fight it because it is hot but the best thing to do is to constantly remind your body of your hydration routine, even under this stress. It may also be necessary to increase your fluid intake if your sweat rate goes up significantly.

Follow the link to continue reading the article: Nutrition for the Heat by Bob Seebohar [via USA Triathlon]

About Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS:
Bob is a sport dietitian and elite triathlon coach. He traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympics as the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Dietitian and the personal Sport Dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team. He has served as head coach for Sarah Haskins, 2008 Olympian, was a performance team member (sport dietitian and strength coach) for Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon bronze medalist. He is the current coach of Jasmine Oeinck, 2009 Elite National Champion. For more information on Bob Seebohar visit www.fuel4mance.com