By Mackenzie Madison
It’s that time of year when the summer heat can really push you over the edge when it comes to training and just as important – racing. You don’t need a thermometer or to check the weather to know that it’s hot and humid. It’d be quicker to step outside and notice the immediate beads of sweat start to roll down your face along with your sunglasses fogging up. Some of you dread the heat, some of you don’t mind.
But here’s why you should mind. Recently, in a group of elite cyclists completing just a 30-minute time trial in moderate heat of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, their overall power output was lower by 6.5% than when performing a time trial in a thermoneutral environment of 73F. (Tatterson) So yes, even in elite cyclists and moderate heat exposure, your performance decreases.
So what can you do to minimize these performance decrements? Get used to it – literally – and get heat acclimated. Besides improving your ability to perform at a high level in the heat, heat acclimation also starves off serious health risks when you are exposed to the heat. Not being heat acclimated exposes you to several risks including muscle cramps, feeling faint, inability to coordinate muscular movements, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hyperthermia, shortness of breath and overall general fatigue.
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