Expert insights on how to train and race in the heat of summer.
Not long after winning the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, I was fortunate to undergo a battery of physiological tests at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) near Chicago. The Olympic marathon was going to be run amid the heat and humidity of Athens, later that summer, and with temperatures expected to be in the 90s on race day, I knew I needed to get as much insight as possible about heat adaptation, my sweat rate and my typical sweat content.
While working with the GSSI, I learned some valuable information about my individual qualities and how the body adapts to heat. I was able to implement some easy measures in my training to ensure proper adaptation and race-day execution.
Two of the most important factors to consider for warm-weather training and racing are the following:
- The body becomes much more efficient at losing heat, but it also becomes much more efficient at losing less essential electrolytes. Losing heat efficiently and keeping electrolytes in balance are critical to performance.
- As your body adapts to the heat, you gain the benefit of greater overall aerobic conditioning. Our bodies have to work harder when running in the heat, but that environment also allows for advancements in overall fitness. So at least you can be content with the fact that you’re actually getting fitter as you suffer through harsh conditions.
With proper implementation, you can adapt to the heat and still enjoy positive results from your training.