Being over here in the European summer with the Rowing Chicks has reminded me about how tough it can be to train in the heat. I know that this will seem irrelevant in Aus at the moment, and if you are getting out onto the water in the morning, it will probably be with thermals. However, here are some tips about training when it’s hot, to store in the memory bank for when it’s a not so rainy day…
First of all, it is a pretty common theory that training in the heat is a good thing for athletes. The jury is still out on the science, but the general gist is that because your body has to work harder when it’s hot, it will make beneficial adaptations. I probably don’t need to convince you that it is harder to row in the heat… I’m sure those afternoon sessions on a Summer rowing camp speak for themselves. However, it is common knowledge amongst marathon runners that for every 10-degree increase in temperature, there is a 1 to 3% increase in time. Your body uses energy to do things like increase the volume of plasma in the blood, sweat earlier and more, and pump blood to the skin’s surface faster (in order to release heat). All of these adaptations are the body’s way of maintaining a ‘normal’ core temperature, and they also lead to dehydration (from sweating) and an increased heart rate.
So what are the best ways of dealing with the heat, and making sure you are getting the most out of your body?
1) Hydrate early and often?.
When it’s hot, we sweat, and when we sweat, we lose fluids. A loss of even 2% of body weight can lead to a 4 -6% drop in performance. Don’t wait until you start sweating before you start drinking. Being hydrated before you train is the easiest way to make your body more efficient. If possible, start drinking water at least an hour prior to training. It is also important to replace the electrolytes you lose and to keep your sugar levels up, so sports drinks are a good thing to sip on during training. They will also help with the water absorption rate. Don’t go crazy with them, however. They are usually full of sugar and it typically isn’t essential to slam a whole bottle (unless you know you need it, are training for extended periods, are conscious of not losing weight etc). The best way to do it, is to have two drink bottles with you -sports drink and water.
2) Be aware of your weight loss
If you get off the water and weigh 3 kilos lighter than before you started, you haven’t been drinking enough.
3) Dress appropriately
Anything light in color and lightweight is always a good idea. This usually comes down to preference though –some rowers like to wear t-shirts to avoid shoulder burn, some rowers prefer visors over hats to get more air to their head. Sunglasses and sunscreen are both essential. Sunglasses because no-one wants eye cancer and sun bouncing off water is particularly bad. And sunscreen, because getting burnt may seem like fun at the time, but sunburn will sap your energy and you won’t train as well in the next session.
4) Recovery and rehydration
?Re-fuel appropriately. This means water, sugar, salt and protein. This is personal, and is dependent on the athlete and the session. But whatever you have done, something needs to go into your body to help it maximise those adaptations. Post session gelati in Europe is always a good idea.
So… sorry to rub it in that while it is freezing all over Australia, the Rowing Chicks are battling the heat. But do remember, that they are always strategising, to get the most out of their bodies.