Summer is upon us in Arizona. Temperatures have been setting record highs close to 120F. But just because temperatures have become a bit uncomfortable doesn’t mean you should stop training out doors or quit until temperatures return to normal. There are some very well thought out hydration techniques designed to keep you in the training loop. I have researched these very carefully and implemented these into my training rides.
Although early morning temperatures are still hovering between 90 and 100F, it is still advisable to plan your training rides as early as possible. For the competitive cyclist, it is quite normal to begin training as early as 4:30AM. I have seen cyclists and runners out on the Usery Pass getting their training done before the weather surges to uncomfortable levels. Most early morning cyclists are all geared up with bright colored clothing and LED lights strapped on their bikes to increase visibility. This is good logical safety and I highly endorse it. In addition to good illumination for bike safety, the Arizona Cyclist should implement proper hydration techniques to avoid dehydration or the wretched bonk while training. Proper hydration techniques will keep the body thermoregulated to avoid dehydration and/or heat stroke. Remember both skeletal muscles and the brain require adequate fluid and carbohydrate intake to adequately function. Medical heat stoke is defined as the point where the core body temperature reaches 105F. Therefore, cycling in the triple digit temperatures of Arizona can be very dangerous if you lack proper hydration techniques. Heat stroke damages the brain and internal organs and often leads to death. The precursor to heat stoke are heat cramps which occur due to dehydration. So cycle smart and avoid dehydration at all costs.
So what are the hydration techniques recommended for Arizona Cyclists?
- First and foremost it is important to remember that ice water in itself is not recommended hydration techniques for hot weather activities. It is a known fact that water will act more like a desiccant, like coffee or alcohol. Drinking water alone in hot weather may psychologically make you feel better, but your body knows better. Your body requires an electrolyte and a light complex carbohydrate based drink to keep muscle lubricated and contracting under intense physical activity. As a rule of thumb heavier carbohydrate drinks are warranted for activities lasting longer than 45 minutes. Therefore if you are planning on 2-3 hour training rides, I recommend a sports performance electrolyte drink. The difference is the added carbohydrate added to keep muscle glycogen stores elevated, so you don’t bonk. Without the proper electrolyte replacement drink or sports performance drink , you will experience a dramatic decrease in performance and acute muscle cramps in your toes, hands and hamstrings.
- The best electrolyte drinks are a personal preference. There are literally hundreds of products available to consumers. I believe the best products are backed by good research and are also used by world class competitive cyclists. My personal favorite electrolyte drinks and carb replenishers which are ideal for competitive cyclist include: Torq Energy and SIS go Energy. Both used by world class and competitive athletes, they each have there merits.
- Recommended Dosage: It is important to note that 1 large bike bottle only represents 3 cups or 750 ml. For hot weather training the minimal recommended electrolyte intake is 750 ml for each hour of training. Therefore, if your planning on doing a 2 hour ride then be sure to load up 2 bike bottle cages with two full bottles of hydration fluid. ( 6 cups of hydration) Again, this is the minimum advisable intake, so don’t be foolish and push the envelope if your are out in early morning 100F Arizona weather.
- Prehydrate: Another valuable tip is to drink 1-2 cups of cold electrolyte prior to your ride instead of guzzling down coffee. You would be surprise how good you feel when you start out on your ride.
- Posthydrate: If you are truly a dedicated cyclist you will be training 4-5 days a week. So be sure that you continue to hydrate once you are done riding. This will prepare you for subsequent rides. Chances are you will be craving cold fluids anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem for most seasoned cyclists. And this doesn’t mean a cold beer! Remember alcohol is a desiccant and will push you into dehydration. Keep your post hydrate fluids clear and alcohol free.
- Last but not least. Be smart. Achieving your Strava goal is a commendable thing, but know when to back down before its too late. There is no shame in dropping your average speed or reducing your training distance. Remember you want to live to see another training day. So abide by proper hydration techniques.
Rivak Hoffman is a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist and Avid cyclist living in Mesa Arizona. His company Every Bit Fit Az is Arizona’s premier source for Sports conditioning and athletic training. Research and writing is a favorite hobby of Rivak when he is not training for out cycling the deserts of Arizona. For more information about Rivak Hoffman visit his web site Everybitfitaz.com