Month: July 2018

Should I Train in the Heat?

Yes, Train in the Heat

 

Unless a doctor told you not to, it is wise to train in the heat. As with any training stimulus (intervals, altitude, strength training, crosstraining etc) you should gradually increase the loading/exposure. So if it is suddenly hot where you live don’t do 5 hours of intervals in the heat of the day. Scale down your training and ride easier and consider riding earlier in the day or partially inside in air conditioning and then over the course of several days-to-weeks you will see your body adapt and you will be able to do a more normal week of volume/intensity.

There are lots of benefits to riding and being hot. Exercise makes you hot and makes you sweaty and uncomfortable, so does hot weather and heat ‘training’ methods like saunas and hot-tubs. There are a few common sticking points that athletes have with heat.

  • Race day is often hot. Do you want your first exposure to that element to be on race day?
  • Be ready for your performance to be lower (just like at altitude) you likely won’t be able to ride as long or as hard. This is normal. Ease into it! I like to consider this as free or ‘bonus’ training time. Training should not always be perfect, a personal best or ‘easy’. There should be hard days (and very easy days).
  • Your Heart rate will very likely be higher. This is normal as your heart as do more work to send blood to your skin to cool you!
  • You will be sweaty and uncomfortable. Embrace this as this is much like a race.
  • Use the hot weather as an opportunity to practice your cooling and pre-cooling strategies (cold/frozen bottles, ice socks, electrolytes etc.) and ensure that you are cooling down and hydrating slowly over several hours after your session.

We talk about heat training and altitude on this podcast episode with Stacy Simms (check out her book Roar!)

How Cyclists Can Sleep Better

Sleep is a problem for many athletes. Sometimes this is just after a hard workout or race but sometimes sleep disruption is more regular and requires some concerted effort. These are a few things that can help.

Sleep after a hard race or late workout

Many athletes like doing a weekly hard race or group workout. If you find that you can no sleep because you are wound up than trying a cold shower, more food (or less food) and/or some foam rolling and deep breathing (or meditation) can help improve this. If you find that this is a consistent trend than you may be wise to avoid these late night events most of the time to preserve sleep, especially if you can train earlier without as much travel. This is a difficult situation but may help you achieve your main season goal so maybe worth considering if the cold showers and tweaking of pre/post meals and bedtime routine do not help.

Or Are you just a ‘bad sleeper’?

 

SLEEP POSITION

If your goal is to stop tossing and turning it may be that a pillow under your knees for back sleepers, between your knees for side sleepers or under your shoulder/flexed top leg for stomach sleepers can help put you in a comfortable position that you won’t need to adjust from to get out of a position you can’t maintain. For many cyclists laying on your back with your hips open results in some sort of movement to let the pressure off the low back. Check out this mobility wod talking more about sleeping in extension and considering a softer mattress or foam pad if finding it hard to get comfortable.
I like the sleep posture that is proposed in this image for stomach sleepers especially. It can also help with neck pain from twisting your head into an odd position relative to your torso.

SLEEP HYGIENE

  • Clean your sheets and vacuum and dust your room today. Do it again or a week or so. Clean sheets (and a clean room) can be a nice way to go to sleep.
  • Winding down – You could try yoga and journaling before bed if you find you are waking up a lot (does not seem like that is the case from your watch ‘awake’ time) = This ‘awake’ time is when you move around a lot and go to bathroom etc (ie. watch shakes a lot) 
  • Make your bedroom dark and try to minimize bright lights in the couple hours before bed. Dimmers and room shades are handy.
  • Brush your teeth right after bed so that is done and starts you on the bedtime routine early.
  •  Having earplugs/eyeshade/dark room and cold room (SLEEP HYGIENE) may also help to avoid extra wakings or a disturbed sleep.

               ** PRO-TIP FOR TRAVELING = Use earplugs/eye shade every day so you are ready to be comfy when traveling **

  • I also believe (but admit it is kooky) that having wifi/phones ON in room (and perhaps just in the room as a temptation) has an effect … so TURNING THEM OFF is also wise
  • Using any screens with low brightness (also use night shift on iPhone and an APP called F.LUX for PC/Mac computer to take some of blue light and brightness out of any screens you need later in day 
  • Try to eat at regular intervals during the day to avoid a huge evening meal and try to have that meal a few hours before bed. A common recommendation is to be done eating by 7:30 pm and be in bed ahead of 10:30 pm.
I find the bed-time function on the iPhone (in timer/clock app) is nice as it reminds me to get ready for bed about 45min before and helps illustrate how long I will get given my wake time. The F.lux app has a similar reminder about the fact you are waking up in 8-9 hours so you should go to bed!

 

More Resources

1) Amy Bender on Sleep on the Consummate Athlete Podcast

2) How sleep relates to your cycling performance

This is an article I wrote for Canadian Cycling Magazine with some basics on sleep and quotes from the podcast we did with PEAK PERFORMANCE AUTHORS BRAD STULBERG AND STEVE MAGNESS 

3) insomnia Guide from PainScience.com

If your sleep is really disrupted definately go see a doctor. To help you start to understand the issue and perhaps find a few other ideas that you can review with your doctor check out this guide from Paul Ingraham of Painscience.com. He put together an article about his insomnia and does a good job of working through many of the factors that can contribute to insomnia.

Read his Insomnia Guide HERE