Racing in the Heat. Just like the best of partnerships, each and every Spartan race has its own set of challenges. Among the hardest? Dealing with extremely warm temperatures. That’s right: whether you’re a veteran or a total newbie, tackling an obstacle course race in the heat cranks up the difficulty level a notch. Here, experts weigh in with some hot weather racing tips.
1. Wear the Right Gear
Sure, those Gildan cotton T-shirts you have from your days as a fraternity all-star may hold some sentimental value, but they are not the right pick for your next OCR. Instead, opt for items that have sweat-wicking properties, enabling your body to cool off when things get really steamy.
Another trick? Wear less. With fewer touch points on the skin’s surface, you’ll have less of a barrier for sweat evaporation. Just do yourself a favor: do not skimp on the BodyGlide.
2. Be Mindful of Your Pace
“You should plan to run anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds slower than your normal running,” says Christy Vachal, coach at Mile High Run Club, a treadmill studio in New York City. “Find a pace where you are comfortable and you are not overheating too easily.” Instead of thinking about the numbers, focus on your perceived exertion and not your watch. “You won’t become a slower racer by doing this; only a smarter one.”
The hotter it is outside, the more you’ll be sweating. More sweat means more water loss, which means more chance of dehydration. Start by aiming for the 60 ounces (1.8 litres) of daily water intake recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. On hot days, make sure you’re drinking 17 ounces of that (about 500 ml) right before you start to exercise.
4. Don’t Forget the Electrolytes
“Electrolytes are key for rehydration,” says exercise physiologist Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, PhD. “This can come from a liquid source (think water with your favorite electrolyte powder mixed in) or it can come from eating with water.”
So do yourself a favor and before the race, figure out what works for you. Try doing some training with chews or Gu electrolyte tablets tucked away in your pockets. Taste different sports drinks and powders to see which ones you like the taste of. And then practice your timing to see how often feels right for you and your activity style.
5. Grab the Sunscreen
Whether it’s warm and sunny or warm and cloudy, lathering up with sunscreen is important on hot days. That’s because UVA radiation comes through cloud cover and windows to damage the skin (causing conditions ranging from inflammation to skin cancer) even on days that aren’t sunny or might have a lower UV index. The last thing you want is a sunburn to throw you off your race game. “UVB causes burns and tans when it’s sunny, spring, and summer season,” says Jennifer MacGregor, MD, dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Remember, the peak daylight hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and this is when the sun causes the most obvious and direct damage to DNA in the skin.”