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Five Tips for Training and Racing in Hot and Humid Conditions


Understanding how heat and humidity influence speed and endurance As we exercise, our bodies burn the calories that that we consume (i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and fats). It is the breakdown of these calories and muscle movement that causes heat to build up and raise our core body temperature initiating the demands of the body to maintain its ideal body temperature of 98.6 degrees. There are several ways that the body dissipates heat (skin and exhalation for example); however, the most complex system involves your ability to sweat.

Simply put, water molecules evaporate from your skin removing heat energy from inside your body, water molecules on your skin making you feel cooler. The (endothermic) process of converting liquid to a gas is beyond the scope of this article; however, the ultimate goal is to maintain your body’s ability to efficiently dissipate heat during exercise. What makes this process difficult is dealing with elements that we don’t have any control over – heat and humidity.

On hot days when there is little difference between the skin’s surface temperature and the ambient air temperatures, the skin provides only small cooling benefits – increasing the importance of sweating to rid your body of internal heat. In fact, when the temperature rises above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you lose no heat at all from your skin – evaporation must to all of the work. Humidity decreases your body’s ability to evaporate sweat because the air is already saturated with water vapor, reducing (and in some cases eliminating) the evaporation rate. Though you and your gear/clothes may be saturated, it is not helping you in your cooling process – sweat must evaporate to remove heat from your body – plain and simple. It is this concept that makes hydration so important; if you don’t have enough fluids to produce sweat you will over heat guaranteed (along with the negative side effects – performance and health wise).

On average, racers lose approximately 30-35 ounces of fluid per hour of exercise (the actual amount varies by body size, intensity & duration levels and heat/humidity levels). There are numerous formulas floating around in the sports performance world regarding ideal food and fluid intake; however, keep in mind that there are three things that we need to evaluate regarding ideal performance nutrition: fluid intake (sports drink & water), electrolyte balance (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium) and calories (sources & amount).

After working with thousands of riders & racers for over 24 years, I have created the MotoE Food & Performance Log to help riders create a customized hydration and nutritional profile for optimum speed & endurance on the track (Note: this log can be used to improve speed & endurance with your cross training efforts: Concept 2 rowing, cycling, MTB, running, swimming, etc.). If you would like a FREE copy of MotoE’s Food/Performance Log, please email me directly at robb3@earthlink.net.

5 Tips for training and racing in the heat and humidity

Wear gear that facilitate the evaporation process (avoid cotton at all costs) Train at times that are relevant to your race (i.e. if you are going to be racing at 2:00 pm, then practice at this time “teaching” your body to acclimate to the heat & humidity Avoid over-hydrating on plain water; drink a sports drink that has a 4-6% concentration rate for optimal hydration levels. If the concentration rate is too high or too low, your body will not absorb your fluids and you may become nauseous Consume cold fluids; they absorbs faster than warm fluids; use insulated bottles to help you keep your fluids cold During hard training intervals in the heat, back off of the intensity for 30 seconds; it is like shaking your hands over a jump Pay attention to external signs of heat stroke sequence: Stage 1: Dry skin (indication that you have stopped sweating) Note: stop the workout; you have hit a point where your fluid levels are dangerously low; performance is dropping Stage 2: Cold chills (visible goose bumps) Note: your body is attempting to capture your attention; you have crossed the danger line; performance is irrelevant Stage 3: Become lightheaded, get a headache or feel queasy Note: you are so dehydrated that your core body temperature has reached a critically dangerous point; bodily functions are being negatively affected Stage 4: The top of your head feels like someone has put a hot skillet on your head; your head feels “hot”Note: you are literally “cooking” yourself from the inside out. Long term problems could result if you continue

Determining your sweat rate (how much fluid you lose during a riding or cross training session) is the key to avoiding dehydration and the negative effects on your performance (and ultimately your health). If you would like a FREE copy of MotoE’s Sweat Rate Calculator, please email me directly at robb3@earthlink.net.

Coach Robb has been working with riders & racers for the last 25 years and is the founder of the Complete Racing Solutions Performance Program & Nutritionally Green Supplements based in Orlando Florida. He has contributed to publications such as Racer X, FLMX and is a regular contributor to RacerX online, RacerXVT, Vurbmoto and various racing websites. Robb can also be heard on the monthly radio show DMXS answering listener’s questions about nutrition & fitness. coachrobb.com is a premium resource center for motocross, supercross and GNCC riders of all abilities and ages. The website outlines the training solutions used with great success by Factory Kawasaki/Pro-Circuit’s Adam Cianciarulo, Broc Tickle, Darryn Durham; Factory, Factory Honda’s Ashley Fiolek, Suzuki’s Jordan Bailey, Factory KTM Off Road Charlie Mullins & Yamaha’s Roman Brown & Morgan Moss. Instructional videos with Coach Robb can be found on the Coach Robb’s Youtube Channel addressing rider’s questions about speed, endurance, strength nutrition, biomechanics, and stretching and soft tissue maintenance. Please visit coachrobb.com to subscribe to his newsletter and learn more about various resources for riders. You can follow him on Twitter: @MotoCoachRobb and on Facebook: Coach Robb.

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