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Competing in a hot enviroment

Be optimally prepared for competitions in the heat

The summer months are just around the corner and with them epic heat battles! And since most of the mountain bike season takes place during the summer months, I think it makes sense to deal with the topic of heat and to acquire the necessary knowhow to perform optimally on hot days!



We at Velocoach have gained countless (sometimes not always positive) experiences with the subject of heat during our own career. Especially as young athletes we didn't deal with this topic enough and did some "self sabotage". Following a few tips so that you can do better!


Mechanical Power, Heat & Adjustment Mechanisms

Since our body can only convert about 25% of the energy into locomotion during training and competition and the rest is converted into heat, it is not surprising that the factor heat does not have a beneficial effect on our performance! A higher ambient temperature thus has a negative effect on our economy and we have to use more energy for cooling...


However, our body has some biological possibilities to adapt to heat. These have the aim to reduce the physiological load on the body (heart rate, body temperature) and can therefore have a positive effect on performance under heat conditions. In order to benefit optimally from these adjustment possibilities, one would have to complete a +/- 90-minute aerobic session in the "target heat" every day for about one to two weeks. Not only the temperature but also the humidity plays a role (tropical heat, etc.).


Since such a heat acclimatization is unfortunately not always so easy to implement in practice, I would like to show a few tricks below on how to benefit from the above-mentioned adjustment effects without a climatic chamber & weeks of training camps. There are also a few simple tricks which can help to cope with acute heat exposures!


Heat Acclimatization

If you don't have a climatic chamber at home and can't expose yourself to "real" heat early on, roller training is a good and effective alternative! When training on the trainer, the usual cooling by the airstream is missing. If you do without a fan and train in a heated room, the body core temperature rises much faster and more strongly than with the same intensity outdoors! I have successfully used this method myself for the preparation for heat races (daily 90' LIT trainer session over 7-10 days). During the summer months I also do "indoor sessions" in order to be prepared for subsequent heat waves even after the onset of winter in summer!


Another possibility for heat acclimatization is the simple wearing of warmer clothes during a training session. This also has the consequence that the body core temperature rises more and thus has a positive effect on acclimatisation.


In addition, you can take a 15 minute, 40°c hot bath immediately after a session and extend the duration of this for six days each day for 5 minutes. According to the latest findings, this has further positive effects on heat acclimation through hot baths (Mike Zurawlew).


Minimizing acute negative effects

In order to literally keep a "cool head" during the competition, the warm-up should be kept shorter than normal and not be too intense. Doing this on a Turbotrainer is an absolute "NO-GO" since you will produce even more heatstress (unless you're on the Tour de France and can't get away from your huge team bus because of the huge crowds...).


During the warm-up it is also recommended to wear a cooling vest and/or use ice (you can make wonderful "cooling elements" out of old socks or women's stockings which can then be worn on the body and provide cooling). Also the wetting in cold water helps the cooling and contributes to a better body feeling. In addition you should avoid the blazing sun if possible and look for a shady place (Umbrella) immediately before the start and during the competition ice-cold drinks as well as the constant setting off with cold water can help to make the heat competition somewhat more bearable!


Furthermore it makes sense to wear light clothes during a competition. Various manufacturers offer special jerseys for the hottest days. These are made of a thinner fabric, usually have no collar and therefore allow a little more cooling. Also one should refrain from wearing an undershirt in summer temperatures if always possible.


Pro Tips:

- If possible, acclimatize to the heat (roller training as an effective alternative) and use "hot baths" as an additional stimulus.

- Keep the warmup short when hot and do not do it on the roll.

- Use a cool box for the drinks and keep plenty of cold ice & water ready

- Find the shadow before the start and already before the start & during the warm-up conse

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