You don’t normally see heat-training articles pop up in September, but there you have it: while Starbucks is proudly serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the San Francisco Bay Area is a toasty 102 degrees.
A normal person would heed the heat advisory and stay in the air-conditioned comfort of their home, work out in the gym or get in that run, ride or swim before the sun rises in all its Indian Summer glory.
A runner or triathlete, however, would rejoice at the opportunity to get some beneficial heat training. That’s right: I said it’s good for you.
As long as you do it safely – hydrate, hydrate, listen to your body, know the signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, hydrate again! – training in hot weather can not only be fun, it could make you a better athlete in the long run. Here is why:
1. Heat adaptation improves performance
In some studies, by as much as 4% to 8%. If you’re the competitive type, that might mean the difference between placing in your age group or ending your race a few seconds off the podium.
2. It increases plasma volume
Plasma transports blood cells around your body. More plasma = more oxygen being carried around in your blood cells, to feed your hard-working muscles. Plasma volume decreases during prolonged exercise, so the more of it you have to begin with, the better. (Wow, I am way oversimplifying this… There is quite a bit of medical research on the topic if you prefer the legit explanation.)
3. Running on those cool race mornings will feel effortless
Get used to running in the heat, and those early-morning races will feel like a breeze. And if you end up racing on a hot day, as luck would have it — well, then, you’ll be well prepared for that, right?
4. You get your full of Vitamin D
A widely-cited clinical study published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that 59% of test subjects — healthy young women living in Southern California, at that! — were vitamin D-deficient. Crazy, right? Vitamin D is essential for bone health; insufficiency is linked to increased body fat and decreased muscle strength. Get your daily dose on a sunny run; just don’t overdo it. Wear sunscreen.
5. You’ll be so ready for long-course triathlon and those mid-day Ragnar legs!
Has the thought of trying an Ironman or 70.3 entered your mind? Or are you more of a Ragnar Relay type of athlete? Nothing like mid-day runs in the heat to get your body ready for race day, when you will likely be starting your run leg smack in the middle of the day.
6. You can run sexy!
OK, we’re entering the not-so-scientific portion of my list now. But how about those short-shorts you can wear without freezing your butt off, or a sexy short skirt?
7. You’ll work on your (sexy) tan
8. Other runners will think you’re crazy — and badass
Among those who share your love or running, training in the middle of the day when it’s a gazillion degrees out elicits awe and respect. They probably think you’re crazy, too. But never mind that, they’ll realize how smartly you trained after you show ’em who’s boss at that next super-hot race.
9. That post-run glass of [water] has never tasted better
Or Nuun. Or beer. Hey, someone has to admit it? Nothing – nothing – tastes better than a chilled glass of the amber brew (your favorite IPA?) after a super-hot, super-hard run or ride in the scorching sun. Don’t judge!
10. You may make like-minded (crazy) friends
Train regularly at the hottest time of day, and you’ll notice one of two things: you’re always the only person out running; or you run into the “regulars,” others who are just as crazy as you are to venture out in the heat. Who knows, maybe you’ll make new running friends that way. Wave hello if you see me!
[tweetthis]Heat wave? Bring it! Check out these 10 reasons why you should love training in the heat.[/tweetthis]
Do you ever train in the heat? What are your survival tips?