We often get the question of how to heat acclimate for that hot, high humidity race you have approaching. The obvious answer is to go train in the heat but there is a right and wrong way to do this.
In looking at this, we want to break workouts into 2 categories: low intensity and high intensity. Low intensity are your zone 1 and 2 workouts, either recovery workouts or longer endurance workouts. For some key workouts, this could also include periods of time in zone 3 as well. High intensity workouts include zone 3 workouts sometimes, but most often zone 4, 5, and 6 workouts. During these high intensity workouts, hitting a specific pace or power while maintaining good form and leg speed is crucial.
Training in the heat will impact pace, power, and form somewhat and therefore should be avoided for high intensity workouts. Instead, do these workouts during the cooler part of the day or inside using a fan with the focus on hitting your key metrics. On the other hand, lower intensity workouts in zone 1 and 2 are perfect opportunities to heat acclimate and should be done in the hot part of the day often if you have a key race coming up that will be in the heat. One caution here – we do need to allow for adequate recovery between key workouts so be smart about how often you do recovery workouts in the heat and make sure you hydrate well during these.
Still want to heat acclimate during your high intensity sessions? There is one way to do this. Immediately after completing your session where you crushed your key metrics because you had ideal temps, spend some time in the heat sweating for 20-30 minutes. This is best done with the use of a sauna.
Use these tips to train smarter and prepare better for your next hot race.