Malta is an island between Sicily and the North African coast. It is a small, densely populated country known for its beautiful coastlines, fortresses and temples. Game of Thrones was filmed there!
It is a paradise, and a haven for triathletes. You can run by the sea. You can take a swim in the sea. You can bike along the sea. I was in my happy place.
My days started around 6am for a track workout. I’d do a half mile warmup followed by 400m repeats. If I woke up late, I’d do a steady state run along the sea enjoying the breeze and pops of shade. Every other day, I’d swim a mile. It was invigorating. The island was full of other determined people exercising. I fed off their energy and gave them some of mine. 🙂
The conditions were perfect. Everyone had muscles. It was summer. The sun was shining.
But it was too hot.
I should’ve worn more sunscreen. I should’ve adjusted my diet. I should’ve managed my intensity.
I’m smarter now.
Here are my tips (learned the hard way) to stay safe and cool when exercising in the heat.
1. True Temperature
It might say 80 degrees on the meter but that’s not the whole story. You need to check the heat index. This combines the temperature with the humidity to tell you how it really feels outside. If the humidity is high, plan to reduce your pace by about 1 minute per mile.
2. Hydration on 100
If you’re thirsty, it’s too late. You’re dehydrated. You need to drink more water throughout the day, not just around the workout. If you normally drink 3 liters, increase it to 4+ liters.
To support optimal hydration, consume water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, and zucchini. Hydration will improve your performance. It will also save your life, fool.
3. Time after Time
Train outside before 8am or after 6pm. The only time you should train midday is to mimic race conditions. If your competition is at 10am or you’re running a 50 miler, training at 6am isn’t enough! Your body needs to be prepared for the exact scenario. I recommend training 1-2x per week in race conditions.
4. Too Hard
If your normal pace is an 8 minute mile, do the first few at a 9-10 minute pace. You can use a running calculator to identify the best speed for the current temperature. And give yourself 14 days to acclimate to the heat. Then you can up the intensity.
5. Re Route
If you have options, train on a dirt or grass path. Asphalt and concrete will reflect the heat back to you making things worse. If you must be on the sidewalk, route yourself near tall buildings to protect you from the sun.
6. Sun Block
Sunscreen, baby. If you’re on shady route, put it on. If you have brown skin, put it on. If you hate the sticky feeling, put it on. And don’t forget your lips. Those pouty things need serious protection. Brands to try: Supergoop, Badger, and All Good.
7. Feel the Feelings
Your safety is more important than calories burned. If you feel nausea, dizziness, mental confusion, or chills, you must STOP the workout. Immediately. Go home, hydrate, and text me. You can tell me how frustrated you are and I can tell you to take another sip.
When it’s hot, follow these tips to ensure you get the most out of your workouts without sacrificing your health. I need you safe and whole so you can achieve every single goal.