Yes, it’s that time of the year again, and the oppressive Georgia heat is quickly approaching. Myself, being from Florida, I have a sick enjoyment of the afternoon heat and humidity that comes each summer. But, I fully realize most people are not like me. And we should absolutely know how to manage the heat when it arrives, particularly in regards to exercise.
Did you know the human body takes approximately 7-10 days to acclimate to a hot environment? Perhaps you will remember this when the first hot day hits and you decide to run at 2pm. We need to keep in mind that our fitness level will appear to decrease when the heat arrives, because we aren’t quite adapted yet. Give yourself time to adjust.
How much water should you drink per day? Do you know? While recommendations vary, you should shoot for ½ to 1 fluid ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. So, for a 150lb individual, anywhere from 75 to 100mL of water per day. I don’t know about you, but that feels like alot of fluid! It can even feel like a chore to get that much down, at first. Additionally, you should account for water lost during exercise in warm weather. An average person can lose 1.5 liters of water per hour through sweat. Highly trained elite marathoners can even lose up to 4 liters per hour. At this rate, it is impossible to replenish your water lost since you can only absorb about a liter of water per hour. Everyone’s water need is different, so you may have to play with the amount you drink to find a happy medium.
When are you training? Obviously, training in the mid-afternoon subjects you to the worst heat of the day. This is something that can be done, but you must be smart about your training if there is no other training time option. You should reduce your volume and intensity, bring plenty of water, make sure you have eaten relatively recently, and dress appropriately to shield your skin from the sun.
Speaking of the sun, you are wearing sunscreen, right? I have written about the need for sunscreen in endurance athletes, here, and it still applies. Using apparel rated for sun protection is a good alternative to gooey sunscreen application as well. Skin cancer is very real and not something we would like to deal with.
Last but not least, if you are to train in high heat, bring a buddy. You can keep one another accountable for water intake, overexertion, and when to call it quits. Heat exhaustion causes delirium and may impair your ability to think clearly. If you must train alone, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back: safety first!
With some common-sense practices we can face this Georgia heat and continue to train and exercise fully. Just remember, in a battle with the heat and your body, the heat will always win.
See you out there!