Summer training is such an alluring prospect. The days are long, the nights are cool and extreme weather conditions (i.e. rain or snow) are nowhere to be found. However, by the end of summer as the days get shorter, the heat intensifies and we’re faced with air as thick as soup, it becomes harder and harder to find the motivation you need to stick with your training program. But don’t let insufferable heat and humidity get in the way of your workouts! All you need is a little creativity, flexibility and the willingness to change things up if you want your training to thrive in this heat!
- Make ‘pacing’ the goal of your workouts.
- Whether you intend to swim, bike or jog, make the focus of your workout tempo-training rather than race or speed intervals. For example, a tempo run is nothing more than 20-45 minutes of steady running at threshold pace. Your threshold pace is the effort level just below which the body’s ability to clear lactate, a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism, can no longer keep up with lactate production. For many people, it’s about 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than one’s current 5K race pace. The workout itself should be ‘comfortably hard’, but you should not find yourself gasping for breath or on the verge of exhaustion. In fact, this workout should leave you perhaps wanting more.
- Increase your ‘rest periods’.
- Take more breaks, and don’t feel bad about it! An interval training pattern with consistent rest periods diminishes the psychological difficulty of the workout while still preserving the aerobic benefits. You will also probably be able to workout longer than you imagined and/or even set aside. Thirty seconds to one minute of rest can lower our heart rate, allow you to catch your breath, and above all find the strength and mental focus to keep on going.
- Have FUN. Like clockwork, you’re at the pool by 5:30 a.m. ready to begin your swim workout. Who says you can’t add a little levity in the middle or towards the end? Healthy doses of chicken fights, underwater breathing contests, and belly-flops all have their place. A big belly laugh and shrieks of enjoyment not only get your heart pumping, but it reminds you why you love going there and spending time with these people in the first place. If being hot, in a pool, and surrounded by your closest, fittest friends doesn’t warrant a pool party of sorts, I don’t know what does!
Ultimately, train smart and don’t let the summer heat dissuade you from your goals and training plan. If that means spending some days in an air-conditioned gym, so be it. Often times, your best workouts don’t have to be the ones where you’re going full-blast. Just showing up for the game when you’d rather be in an icy, cold shower speaks volumes and you’ll feel all the much better for it.