If you think winter might be the hardest season of the year for athletes, then think again its is the summer seasons high humidity and temperatures that affect endurance the most. The negative effects of heat influence athletes differently and there are a few strategies that could minimize the impact.
Top athlete Mujilko categorized the heat strategies in three sections, starting with pre-race cooling interventions, then followed by during, before and after hydration and finally, temperature adaptation as part of pre-race preparations. Each of the categories has different strategies, works differently and offers the same outcome, so it hugely depends on personal preferences.
When it comes to precooling strategy, it will include any plan that assists in lowering your core body temperature before the event or any exercise. The strategies can also be further categorized into cooling down the entire body or skin. Skin cooling is in place to reduce the strain during exercise on your cardiovascular system while the whole body is cooling down is focused on reducing skeletal and organ temperatures. Both systems have been proven to prolong endurance and to improve performance in hot summer conditions.
To cool down the entire body 30 mins in water of 22C will lower the body temperature although it also cools down the muscles, which is not desired especially before an event. Cold towels would lower skin temperature without lowering muscle heat and drinking water is great for improving endurance before a race although during a race ice slushy’s is best to improve performance.
While there are an array of hydration strategies especially for event days, most participants understand the importance of staying hydrated during running and cycling events. The recommendation of staying perfectly hydrated is to consume 6ml of water or fluid according to your body mass. So for every kg you weigh it is important to drink 6ml of water to prevent dehydration at least every 2 hours before starting the event or a training session during intense heat. Plus athletes preparing for triathlon events should also add sodium to take care of the heat and the recommended dosage is for every hour of training a solution of 0.07-gram sodium per litre of water, which is the best answer should you suffer from cramping and if you a regular sufferer of bad cramping then it is advised that your sodium solution should consist of 1 litre of water with 1.5g of sodium. The higher solution is also recommended for athletes who are heavy sweaters another solution is to add 3.0g of salt to make a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink of 500ml.
The main preparation for any event whether it takes place during winter or summer is to stay hydrated and even more so during the high summer temperatures during which it is important to keep your body cool for maximum performance. Adding sodium is a great way to keep cramps at bay and starting with the routine in training sessions will get you ready for the race day procedures.