What we are talking with our athletes about now: Heat, pacing and supplements.

The topics we have been talking about in the past two weeks have all been centered around:

1) The heat and how to deal with it.

2) Pacing during events and workouts in the heat.

3) Supplements: What are depleted in the heat and what can be used to enhance performance.

This summer has been hotter than ever and riding and racing in the heat is a challenge for nearly everyone. Some athletes tolerate heat well, and others hate the heat and perform better in cooler temperatures. Masters nationals here in the US is coming up in 3 weeks and is one of the hottest places in August, and promises to be a huge factor in who makes the podium. We have been employing multiple tactics with our athletes

  1. Training as early as possible. Go early as you can in the morning to beat the heat.
  2. Pre-load water into your body for a better workout. Chugging a bottle of water before you go out on your workout can help to ensure you stay hydrated enough in the heat.
  3. Electrolytes! Sodium is the king of the electrolytes and you will need more of it during your longer workouts. Most athletes lose around 1000mg of sodium per hour during a hot day when riding intensely. Most of the name brand sports drinks have less than 300mg in them and it’s just not enough. Make sure you choose a sports drink with more sodium or use The Right Stuff to add into your bottle. We have all of our athletes using The Right Stuff. It’s also important to have extra Potassium and Magnesium. Bananas are high in potassium and dried fruits and nuts are high in Magnesium.
  4. How to acclimate to the heat. It takes roughly 10-14 days to acclimate to increased heat and humidity. Most of us live in our air-conditioned homes, drive in our air-conditioned cars, work in our air-conditioned offices and then ride for a few hours in the heat and humidity and wonder why we are not used to it! If you are preparing for a race in the heat and humidity, then you need to turn off the AC at home, in the car and if possible at the office. This is going to be tough, but you need some fans. Move the wind over you at night, at the office, etc and that will help it be more tolerable. Here’s a quote from Bill Simmons, one of our riders that just won Master’s nationals in the MTB. “Hunter, I just want you to know I took to heart your good advice for Heat acclimatization at Nationals. It worked. Thank you! I had no problem with 85+ degree heat and 80% humidity by the end. I couldn’t believe that. From two and a half weeks out, I tried to use heat/humidity whenever I could, to build tolerance. I used our county rec ctr steam room. I followed your advice for the 3 day drive to PA, with no air conditioning. That involved major suffering, with car cabin temps well over 100. In my Airbnb 4 days out, no air conditioning. That was very kind of you to help! I felt great on race day.”

Pacing is our next topic and this centers around events in the heat and also workouts. When it’s hot, you will definitely need to dial back the intensity, especially for any event over 2 hours. Reducing your pace by 5-15% will be normal and expected. This can be during intervals, weekend rides or events. Your heart is going to have to pump faster to produce the same power as it might during a cooler workout. So, heart rate can be very deceiving during hot weather. You may see some higher heart rates with lower power output, but that’s normal. Use your power meter to pace yourself and let the heart rate do what it’s going to do. For events over 5 hours, you will most likely need to reduce your power by 20% in order to be able to finish strong and achieve your goal.

Supplements is the last topic that we have been talking about this summer. We have been chatting a lot about taking extra iron and vitamin c. Iron is depleted during exercise through it’s use in binding the oxygen molecules to the red blood cells and also through your sweat. If you are not a red meat eater, it’s very difficult to obtain enough bio-available (heme-iron) in your diet. Even red-meat eaters in a very hot and humid environment that are intensely training for an event can become low in iron. It’s important that you have your “serum ferritin” levels checked at least twice a year and ensure that you have enough iron for optimal performance. The recommended daily allowance is 18mg per day, but keep in mind, that’s for a normal person just to function on. You are an endurance athlete so you will need 3-5x this amount daily. If you are low in iron, depending on how low, you might even consider asking for an iron shot, otherwise, you could spend 6 months trying to raise it through diet. We have also been speaking about the effects of beet juice with our athletes. This is a well-known performance enhancing veggie! We have seen such large increases in power output, we jokingly call using it, “beet doping”. We recommend the Beet Elite (just re-branded to Super Beets) from HumanN. You can get it here.

We hope this has helped in explaining some of the great topics of conversation we have been having with our athletes this month! Let us know if you’d like to see if you are a fit for our coaching programs. Schedule a time with a coach right now.