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Coach Monty – Training for Running in the Heat

If you are thinking of running a GlobalLimits challenge, the chances are you will experience a little 'heat!' For everything GlobalLimits and the many other extreme challenges around the world, here are my 10 hot tips for racing in the heat:

Practise the obvious. Sweat levels will increase so you will need to practice replacing fluid regularly. Whether that is continual sips or longer drinks every 15 minutes. Practice, practice, practice. Have a strategy.

Fluid is not only lost through sweating. Respiration, eating, breathing all use up extra fluid in the heat.

Replace electrolytes. Important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are lost through sweating. These are needed for important bodily functions so will need to be replaced. This could be through a balanced electrolyte tablet such as an S-cap, or through electrolyte sports drinks which can be alternated with water consumption.

Variety. Food, drink and all nutrition. Several days or even hours competing in the sun  can make what is normally palatable, impossible to consume or digest. Have a variety of food and liquids you can utilise as A, B and C plans.

Prepare physically. Arrange with a local university to use their heat chamber to help you acclimatise to the heat. Additionally, your core temperature, sweat loss and other statistics can be measured while running at specific temperatures. 

Homework. Have a hot bath or a sauna straight after a run. Wear rain jackets, fleeces and hats in training. Set up a treadmill or bike in a spare room with the heating on. All little things which will help the body adapt to racing in the heat.

Mentally prepare. Do not use the heat as an excuse for other things which can go wrong in the race. You can’t control the heat so prepare your mind for the challenge with exposure, mantras and visualisation.

Humidity. With extreme humidity physical exertion becomes even more difficult. The body cannot cool itself as effectively. Sweat produced to cool the body does not evaporate and instead sits on the skin raising the skin temperature and subsequently the core temperature. Splash water over clothing, poor water over main arteries in the body (groin area, wrists and neck).

Strategies. If you are overheating, slow down, rest in the shade, stop to drink. A pause for 5-10 minutes could shave hours off later on.

5 week rule. Physical training adaptations for the heat is beneficial 5 weeks or less, prior to the event. However, earlier heat training will still have psychological benefits.

This is just the start of what you can do to condition yourself for racing in the heat. Do your homework. Read, research and ask. Good luck!