“It’s so hot!”
Ya, it’s Summer; so, stop complaining and start training.
By Dr. Rick Kattouf II
“It’s so hot!”
“I just cannot workout in the heat!”
“I don’t race well in the heat!”
I am sure you’ve heard such statements thousands of times from athletes. Or, maybe this is your negative self-talk. Working out, training and racing in the heat is no more difficult than it is in cooler weather; so, stop complaining. It’s Summer, of course it’s hot. And it’s going to be hot next Summer, and the Summer after that and so on.
The only reason it may seem to be more challenging is because individuals do not approach warm weather workouts properly and their expectations are unrealistic. When it comes to running for example, most runners follow pace per mile as the main parameter. They may also follow perceived exertion as well. For example, if an individual has a 10-mile run, half marathon race, marathon, etc., they have a pace per mile goal that they are going to try to maintain. Now, using pace and RPE (rate of perceived exertion) are great to use and quite valuable. But all too often, they do not take the race conditions into consideration. Therefore, whether it is 40° or 90°, the runner is going to try to maintain their goal pace per mile, no matter what. And herein lies the problem.
According to Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist, Richard N Vest III, M.D., "only following pace, speed and perceived effort is very shortsighted because we are ignoring the most important factors, and that is heart rate.”
Take Heed to Your Heart
One of the main issues here is that the runner is not focusing on the most important number and that is their heart rate. Let’s say, for example, the runner’s goal is to maintain 8:00 per mile. Physiologically, this pace per mile is going to produce a different result in 40° weather versus 90° weather. In warmer weather, the body has to drive blood to the skin to try to keep the body cool. And at the same time, the body has to drive blood to the working muscles as well. What does all of this demand mean for the heart? Well, it’s pretty simple. This means that the heart has to beat faster. As a result, we are going to have a higher heart rate in warmer weather. And if we choose to be short-sighted and only follow pace (and not heart rate), the result may not be just subpar, but it may be close to a disaster in the heat.
In addition, hydration plays a huge role on heart rate and proper hydration is critical in the heat. As we become dehydrated, our blood volume decreases and blood viscosity increases. In turn, this affects (increases) heart rate. As the miles click by in a workout and/or race and as the temperature continues to climb, cardiac drift is occurring. Simply put, your heart rate will continue to increase over time (even if the pace stays the same). Now, add in the dehydration and cardiac drift will be even greater. At this stage, the runner may find themselves moving at a snail’s pace even though, early in the race, they were ‘on goal pace’ and feeling great. How can we minimize cardiac drift? We simply have to focus on heart rate and hydration from the start of the race.
Focus on Physiology
In summary, training and racing in the heat can be amazingly successful. But in order to make this a reality, runners must closely monitor, physiologically, how their body is performing. This is done by focusing on heart rate. In addition, keeping the body extremely well hydrated all day long and before/during/after workouts will be a huge assist in the heat. Does this mean you will run a PR in the heat? Maybe, maybe not. But the PR is not the main focus. Rather, by following your heart rate and by staying optimally hydrated you will be guaranteed success. And the guarantee is this: you will have the best possible performance, on that day, in the given conditions. Now that is one heck of a guarantee.
In marathon racing, there are not many guarantees of course, but here is something that is as close to a guarantee as it can be; a great final 10k of a marathon, all but guarantees a great race performance. But, neither a great opening 10k nor a great middle 10k guarantees a great race performance. It’s all about how you finish, not about how you start. And this is where the proper heart rates and proper fueling will set you up for amazing success.
Create a new normal
Gone are the days where you have train wreck workouts in the heat or your pace is reduced to a slow walk on a hot race day. That is the past. Let’s start to create new habits and let’s create a new normal. If you are ready to embrace the heat and have some incredible performances, let’s check that athletic ego at the door and put pace-per-mile on the back burner. Focus on your heart rate and hydration and you will crush it in the heat!
WORKOUT SMART, EAT RIGHT, GET RESULTS®!
Rick Kattouf II, O.D. is a 2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert and has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite® Trainers of the Year. Rick is a Sports Nutrition Specialist, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Master Personal Trainer & Triathlon Coach. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune, National Examiner, Ironman.com, Livestrong.com, Runner’s World, Bicycling Magazine, Men’s Health UK, FIGHT! Magazine, Florida Cycling Magazine and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Inc, CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Nutrition LLC, CEO/Founder of Virtual Gym LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf® Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury® Nutrition Supplement, 5-Round Fury Fitness® workout app, Creator of Coach2CEO, Creator of Fuel Keeper®, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Dr. Rick has personally coached individuals in 30+ states and 10+ countries.