Heat Acclimation 101

The Great Outdoors are upon us!  What a way to start out the series.  Chad Reed and Blake Baggett both put on incredible charges through the pack to take the overall.  To be honest, I was extremely surprised the raw speed Baggett had at the end of the moto after training heavily for the Supercross season.  Granted, temperatures were not as hot as years past, but the literal night and day difference between the two types of racing can wreak havoc on the body.  Getting accustomed to the summer time temperatures is mandatory, especially if you live in the Southeast and/or plan on racing Loretta’s.

Heat acclimation is a process that should be taken seriously.  Temperatures down here in Florida have been nice the past 2 weeks, but it has risen back to the normal 90o and above mark.  When the body is in warmer weather, it makes physiological adaptations to compensate for its environment.  For example, there is an increase in heart rate, sweat rate and blood flow is increased to the skin to try and cool the body down.  This is why people with fair complexions look flushed.

The best time frame to get accustomed to higher temperatures is around 2 weeks.  In the first 5 days, heart rate decreases and perceived exertion is much lower during exercise.  In the second week, electrolyte conservation is utilized to help the muscles firing and keeping the body hydrated.  If performing at normal levels of intensity in warmer weather, you will notice it is much harder to carry out the regimented workout.  The body is forcing blood to not only the skeletal muscles, but also to the skin to maintain regular core temperatures.  Because of this, it is recommended that you take things easy the first week and do less intense workouts to allow the body to adapt to the stress.

One important part of this process is to weigh yourself before and after workouts.  If you are in hot enough environments, you will lose a few pounds from water weight.  It is extremely important to know how much weight you’ve lost so you can rehydrate and see if you are drinking enough liquids.  For example, if you weigh 150lbs on Monday and go for a run outside to come back and see you’ve lost 2lbs.  This means you must rehydrate yourself back to 150lbs.  If, the next day you weigh yourself and you are only at 149, you are not ready to workout outside.  By constantly losing this water weight, you deplete yourself of electrolytes and water.

Take things easy to make sure your ready for the heat.  Heat exhaustion and stroke are not fun, so save yourself the misery and work your way up to the normal intensities.  Trying to speed things up in a hoodie and sweat pants is not the best idea as well.  Like I said before, your heart is working overtime to supply the skeletal muscles and skin with blood.  You are only putting more, unnecessary strain on your cardiovascular system as well as an increased rate of water loss.  Just don’t do it.


Posted on May 23 2011, under Training | No Comments »

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