Michael and Amanda Lovato have a lot of experience training, racing and traveling in hot climates. In fact, over the weekend they served as coaches for Race Quest Travel’s Costa Rica camp at the beachside JW Marriott Hacienda Pinilla Resort & Spa in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Here, they share their tried and true tips for beating the heat, before, during and after a race.
Preparing for a hot race should start well before you arrive at the race destination. There are a few quick tips to get you started down the right path. First, it’s key to do your very best to practice your hydration strategy in training, and to do so as often as possible–even when the weather back home does not merit it. Teaching the body to handle that fluid will help the body absorb and utilize your intake on race day. Next, getting the body familiar with sweating is a key component of your preparation. There are a few methods we use: sitting in the Sauna for 10-15min (with a bottle of fluid!); riding indoors on a trainer (preferably with no fan); wearing arm warmers (or arm “coolers”) to bring the body temperature up; and trying to do occasional training sessions during the heat of the day. It’s not necessary to overdo these things, but they all help prepare the body to better handle the heat. Finally, during race week we advise our athletes to add extra salt to their food. The closer you get to race day, the more you should load it on.
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During the few days leading into the race, it’s important not to overdo your exposure to the heat. Many athletes make the mistake of dehydrating themselves prior to even getting to the start line. We believe that a bit of exercise helps with the acclimation, but without proper rehydration during that exercise, the plan backfires. Take a bottle or two on every session: swim, bike and run; and if you can track sweat loss (e.g., with a body weight scale) it helps to get the fluids topped off when you finish training. Our personal experience–and this has been tested over decades of hot racing–is that sleeping with the AC and/or a fan are better for you than continuing to sweat it out through the night, when you should be resting and recovering. Nix the AC and you just might nix your chances of staying cramp free! Also, we recommend that every athlete begin his or her day by consuming 16-ounces of water (or fluid replacement drink). Do this as soon as you wake up, even before you have coffee or breakfast.
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Post-workout or post-race hydration is key. The smartest way to handle this rehydration is to always have ample amounts of your favorite fluid replacement drink on hand. We prefer First Endurance EFS, and we keep tons of it around, especially when we are in the tropics. In order to rehydrate properly, we need to consume 1.5 times the number of ounces (or milliliters) we lose during exercise. Therefore, if you lose four pounds of water weight (like Michael does), you need to take in six pounds in order to top off for the next session (4lbs x 16oz = 64 fluid ounces; 6lbs x16oz = 96 ounces.) It’s simple to test how much fluid you lose, and you can do so ahead of time at home. Just weigh yourself pre- and post-workout (but be sure to do so naked and with the sweat dried off your body). Finally, remember that you need to take in electrolytes with the fluid, as it’s an important component to how well you absorb the fluid. This can be accomplished with a sports drink, with electrolyte tablets or even by taking a few salt tabs later in the day.
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