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Tips for Training in the Heat and Humidity
By:  Zoe Braul   (2008/06/08)


Being from Vancouver, I am quite used to training in 10 degrees and rain. Summer in Ottawa will be a whole different story though! Iíve heard stories how humid Ottawa can get, but I guess I wasnít ready for it. Itís so sticky all the time! The humidity seems to make the warm days scorching. Iíve been noticing lately that the relative humidity has been around 66%, making the temperature seem 10 degrees warmer than it actually is.

Iíve come up with some tips help deal with training in the heat: (but it may be old news to Ottawa locals though!)

  • It takes about a week for the body to acclimatize to large changes in temperature. So for the first week or so of training in this weather, donít be surprised if you are going at a slower pace than usual with a higher heart rate. Once you acclimatize, you will be able to train faster.

  • Train in the morning or evening, when it is the coolest (it doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure that out).

  • Drink more fluids than usual, regardless if you are training or not. Iíve been noticed that Iím sweating rather profusely!

  • It is especially important to use a good sport drink when you are sweating a lot to replace lost electrolytes. I like eload best because it is not overly sweet. Allowing for dehydration can cause heat cramps (muscle pain and/or spasms).

  • Running is by far the harshest form of exercise when it is so hot because itís not very fast. Try biking or rollerskiing instead.

  • Instead of running along sun-drenched places such as the canal, go to the Gatineau Park. The parkway is somewhat shady. But watch out for black flies! You can take a dip into Meech Lake during or after your training to cool off.

  • Wear sunscreen! You definitely can get burned when it looks cloudy. Be careful about sunscreen dripping into your eyes though.

  • Those mesh running sun hats are good to avoid sunburns on the face and to absorb some sweat.

  • Wear light-coloured synthetic training clothes (no cotton!).

  • A cold bath after training is good for recovering the muscles, but will also cool you off.

  • Freeze or put ice cubes in your water bottles before heading out. You can also stuff a hydration backpack bladder with ice cubes if youíre going for a longer ride/hike/run.

You may have heat exhaustion (which can quickly turn into heat stroke) if you have the following symptoms: headache, nausea, vomiting, paleness, dizziness or clammy, mottled skin. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising, get into the shade and drink water. If you do not feel better in 30 minutes, contact a doctor!

Good luck with the summer training!

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