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How Athletes Train For Hot Weather

Updated: 6 days ago

I've written similar articles to this one over the years, and typically it's one of our lower-performing articles because people just ignore it. That's okay. For those who do read it, I hope this helps you out. It is essential that athletes train for hot weather.


crawling through a mud pit

When summer hits, the most important thing you can do as an athlete, regardless of your sport, is become acclimated to the heat. I personally compete in Obstacle Course Races (OCRs), Hybrid competitions like Hyrox and DekaFit, and Tactical Competitions. OCRs are always outside, I just did a Hyrox outdoors on a peer in NYC a few weeks back - it was very hot, and all Tactical Competitions that I've ever heard of or competed in are also outdoors.


 

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Why does this matter? If you don't acclimate to the heat, you will suffer in the heat, and honestly, it can be dangerous. There are a ton of physiological reasons why this is the case, and I'm not a biologist or sports scientist, so I'm not going to try to dig into the details (you can read/listen to experts who are properly credentialed on this topic for corroboration - do a Youtube search for "heat adaptation training" and you'll find multiple videos on the topic from PhD's and world-class athletes within the top 10 hits).


What I can say with absolute certainty is that you NEED to get outside and train outside as it becomes hotter and more humid.


Start Small: You first session in the heat and humidity shouldn't be long. For the first week or so, do 2-3 sessions between 20-30 minutes. Make sure you stay hydrated the whole time. Week two, maybe add 5-10 minutes per session. Week 3, add another 5-10 minutes per session. After several weeks, your body will have made significant adaptations that will allow it to cool faster and more efficiently when in hot and humid conditions.


hyrox sled push

Build Gradually: If you are doing a lot of trail running or outdoor running in general for your race training, then build up your time in the heat gradually. Just because you can handle 40 minutes in hot/humid conditions doesn't mean you can handle 90 minutes. Build up gradually just like you would build up your running volume.


Always Bring Water: Have water with you. If possible, also have some kind of electrolyte drink or powder as well. If you are running laps, set up a water station on the lap so that you have access to it consistently.


After several weeks of training in the heat, you will notice a difference in your performance, how you feel, and yeah, it may still suck, but it will suck way less than if you weren't heat acclimated. You'll certainly crush your competition who didn't prepare for the heat.


The only caveat I'll give for training in the heat is if you have a medical condition which makes it unsafe for you to be out in hot and humid conditions. In this case, don't do it. For everyone else, you'd be foolish not to acclimate to the heat/humidity.

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