Training in hot weather
A guide to managing the risks of riding in hot conditions
How to reduce the risk of heat illness during hot weather
Last week I had a moderately scary experience while out doing a training ride on a hot day
I managed to give myself a bona fide case of heat exhaustion.
It's insidious on a bike .. you're riding along, and sure, you feel hot, but the air rushing by you keeps you cooler, and all seems well. Or at least, that's how I felt until I stopped riding.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion :
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure (you feel like you're a bit light headed)
- headache (maybe)
- weakness (me up a hill!)
- Sweating may be reduced, but is still present
- Your body temp is still pretty normal at this point
This can change to heat stroke, which can kill you!
Symptoms of Heat Stroke :
- Mental confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- increased body temperature
- dry, hot skin
Heat stroke will kill you if left untreated.
Treatment for Heat Exhaustion :
- Stop riding
- move to cooler environment (find a shop with an air con!)
- Drink fluids. *NOT* caffenated fluids (this means no coke!)
I recommend in the following order : C4P, Staminade, Gatorade, Any other sports drinks, water
Treatment for Heat Stroke :
- Seek medical assistance. I mean it! You may need intravenous fluids, you may suffer brain damage. You may die.
- Stop exercising
- Move to cool environment
- Take a cool shower, but do not immerse in ice baths
- Apply ice to groin, try not to give frostbite to sensitive areas, you may need them someday.
The best treatment of course, is to avoid it in the first place. It's mainly common sense, but I forgot, so maybe you will too sometimes.
- Avoid training in the heat of the day - Do your rides early in the morning or late at night when it's cooler
- Drink lots of fluids, before and during and after your training. It's beneficial to drink lots the night before, as it takes time to fully hydrate. Make sure there's salts in your drinks, and generally, keep your fluid intake to around 1 to 1.5 litres an hour. Overhydration leads to hyponatremia and water intoxication, both of which can be fatal.
- Ease off your training when it's really hot. If it's 30+, consider having a mental health day. Go to the beach and swim instead.