For people like Steven Rindner, running is one of life’s great pleasures. That said, you probably know that under the heat of a blazing sun, a run can quickly become considerably less pleasurable. However, if you are interested in becoming competitive in any number of running events held in hot climates around the world, you will need to find a way to become adapted to exerting yourself in the heat. Interestingly, researchers are confirming not only that it is entirely possible to become heat adapted, but also that athletic performance can actually be improved through heat training. This is because the body learns to cool itself more efficiently by sweating earlier in an exercise session, and because the ability to deliver oxygen to muscles increases over time.
Most fundamentally, you can become better at exercising in the heat simply by exercising in the heat. However, there are some very real risks associated with exerting yourself in high temperatures. Highly trained and untrained people alike can exert themselves to the point that their core temperature becomes dangerously or even fatally high. For this reason, it is vitally important that any effort to become heat adapted is done very gradually and with careful attention paid to the signs that you may be over doing it. These signs include dizziness, confusion, weakness, headache and vomiting.
In order to reap the benefits of heat training, you want to aim for a core temperature of 101 degrees for 60 minutes over approximately 10 days. Remember to work up to these levels gradually!
How to Heat Train in a Hot Climate
If you live in a hot climate, you have the advantage of being able to heat train simply by stepping outdoors. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you live in a hot climate that you will automatically be heat adapted. Take it slow! Even if you are highly fit from indoor workouts or cool early morning runs, don’t underestimate the impact that heat can have. Be sure not to become dehydrated as you begin with short, low-intensity runs in the heat of the day. Gradually increase the length and intensity of the run over the course of several weeks.
How to Heat Train in a Cool Climate
It can be more challenging to become heat adapted in a cool climate, but not impossible. There are several techniques that you can use to raise your core temperature even in a cold space. One of these is by wearing several layers of clothing as you train at your normal intensity. Some people wear waterproof “sweat suits” to achieve this affect – however, these can be very dangerous if you are not exceptionally well-attuned to the signs of over-exertion. It is safer to wear extra layers which can simply be removed if you feel that you are being too hot. Another strategy is to reduce or eliminate water consumption during training. This will eliminate the cooling effect that water has on the body and will allow your core temperature to rise.
However you implement a heat adaptation strategy, be sure to take it slow and pay attention to any sign that you are over-doing it.