Working out in a heatwave
Phew what a scorcher - and it's only May. It doesn't seem five minutes since we were shivering and working out to keep warm. But just because the temperatures are starting to rise for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's not excuse to ease off the training.
But it does make sense to take precautions when training in warmer condition. Obviously most of us will use our rowing machine indoors - although I do like to take my ageing Concept2 outside at times, just for a change of scenery.
I think I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoy working out in extreme conditions - with the exception of humid weater. I love running in those still, freezing cold days in winter, but also in the heat of summer. But when it is hot, it is wise to be careful. When running in temperatures over 25c I run around half my usual distances and take a small bottle of water. I soak my head and put on my cap - essential now I'm older and don't have the covering I used to on top on my head :0(
But when rowing indoors it's easy to forget how the heat can effect us. I guess it has to be said that if your room has no air circulating and it's over 28c then it would be a good idea to give it a miss. Exercising in hot conditions places additional stress on your body. Because more blood is needed near the surface of your skin to keep you cool, it means less is sent to your muscles, this in turn increases your heart rate.
And to make things worse, high humidity prevents your sweat evaporating from your skin which stops you cooling. Personally I can't think of anything worse than exercising in high heat and humidity.
If you experience any of the following while working out in the heat - STOP IMMEDIATELY!
If you have to stop, you must lower your body temperature and drink water to rehydrate as quickly as possible. Remove layers of clothing, get by a fan and splash cool water on your body to bring down skin temperature. Additionally, place wet towels around your head and/or neck, and even under your arms. If you still feel unwell are half an hour it is advisable to seek medical assistance.
But it doesn't have to get to this stage if you take care and exercise sensibly. Try the following:-
My worse experience of heat stroke came in 1984 or 85 (can't remember exactly) when I ran in the Birmingham Pearl Assurance AAA Half Marathon. It was in July and very hot. My brother and I ran within ourselves and took on plenty of water. But for some reason the last water station at the 10 mile mark had no bottles ready so we continued to the finish. The last mile was difficult and I felt my skin begin to prickle and become very hot. But we were 20, very fit, and wanted to finish in under 1 hour 30 mins. Luckily, we finished before things got serious, but I vividly remember downing a bottle of water quickly and in less than 5 seconds the sweat was streaming from my face - just like in a cartoon.
Remember, there's no benefit to be gained by over-training when it's hot as you'll only get ill and miss the next two or three days! Take precautions and stay fit :0)
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Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.