|Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters|
Like it or not, summertime heat and humidity are upon us for the next few months. Here in Florida summer begins in May and finally begins to cool down in mid October. This week's tips are designed to help your training be safer, more bearable and most beneficial to you as you safely pedal your way through the dog days of summer.
- Wear light weight clothing that helps keep your core temperature down. Wicking material is a good choice since it draws moisture away from the skin and allows it to evaporate more quickly, keeping your body cooler.
- Choose deodorant over antiperspirant to help your body cool itself
- Sun sleeves have three main benefits: wicking moisture away, increasing circulation and battling sun damage.
- Watch the head heat: while a bandana may be good for a cooler ride to help keep the heat in, try a CoolMax head wrap for hot days to wick moisture away http://www.headsweats.com/products/COOLMAX%C2%AE-Classic.html
- Weigh yourself before a ride and again after. Strive to maintain your weight by drinking enough liquids while on your ride.
- Begin hydrating early in the day if you know you will be out in the heat. If you are planning an intense ride, if the humidity is high or if you are going to put in long hours, be sure to include electrolytes. Does your face have white crystals on it after a ride? Then try adding 1/2 tsp salt to your drink mix.
- A good rule of thumb in cooler temps is 16 oz. of drink per hour on a ride; in the heat & humidity, that can increase to 3 or more bottles per hour.
Listen to your body's signals
- One of the first ways your body will alert you to a problem is by cramping up. The muscles must be properly hydrated to function optimally. Your calves, quads and abdominals may be the first to scream out. Listen up!
- Headache, nausea, vomiting and feeling weakness are a few symptoms of heat exhaustion. Get off the bike, get in the shade, elevate your feet and pour on the water. You must cool off and do so quickly
- Heat stroke is the most dangerous level of heat-related illnesses and can be fatal. This can not be ignored as medical attention is required to cool the body off. Skin it warm / hot to the touch and sweating may have ceased completely. Confusion and irritability are common. Get help immediately!
The human body is designed to keep itself in balance. We have fantastic mechanisms within our DNA that help us do so but we also have amazing brain power that we are expected to implement. We have state of the art training equipment and engineered apparel to aid us in staying cool and safe. We are wise to use common sense as we train, to heed our body's warning signals and to prepare ourselves nutritionally before we mount up. With that said, ride cool, ride wet and ride safely!