Some of you are coming into your big events of the year, some are just beginning to throw down, and the 'cross specialists are working on their base. Either way, your intensity is increasing, and for many, the volume is going up a bit, too. In order to get the most from your racing and training, make sure you take some extra steps to give yourself every advantage possible.
1. Drink enough fluids during the day. When I was teaching, I would use a gallon jug of water at work to be sure that I'm taking in enough water. Sometimes trying to count bottles or glasses can be misleading, and it's better for the environment to refill. Everybody has different hydration requirements but it's widely agreed upon that athletes need more water during hotter temperatures.
See: How to Optimize Your Recovery by Hydrating Properly
2. Drink enough during training and racing. It's hot...you're going to sweat more. It's impossible to "stay ahead of it" as we often say, but you can minimize your losses.
3. Eat enough during the day and during rides. The hotter weather sometimes suppresses your appetite, so watch your intake.
Side note--check out this article:Lose Weight by Eating More
4. Take advantage of the neutral support in races and rides. Stop at the aid stations, top off your bottles and/or hydration pack, dose yourself with some cool water, and get some calories if the duration warrants. Just do watch your time if you're in a competitive event. It's not a smorgasbord...get in with a plan of what you're going to grab, grab it, and get out.
5. Don't hesitate to stop on a training ride to refill. You can often find delis and the like that will gladly refill your bottles with another purchase. If you live in super hot areas like Flagstaff, AZ, there will be coolers of ice cold water outside of each restaurant--it's the law apparently! No matter what, carry some cash (some small shops still have a minimum purchase for credit cards) and fill up. Again, you can be efficient and not lose too much time.
6. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. This should be the case year round, of course, but the summer offers us some great treats. Watermelon is very high in potassium, which is great to fend off muscle cramps. And the water content of most fruits and vegetables is very high and will serve your body well.
7. Cool yourself during and after workouts and after races. The recovery process is sped up the faster you can cool your core. It's also great for the joints and muscles. A cold shower, or a sit in a cold stream can do wonders. The stream idea can be used mid-ride, too. If you have access to a cold plunge, that's the DEAL! I've found these techniques to be VERY effective.
8. Apply lotion and sun screen. If your body's resources are being used to heal damaged skin, it's less energy that you can spend on repairing the damage done by racing and training. This is in addition to the obvious life-threatening side effects of getting burned. Or, on a lesser note, having uncomfortable and restless nights of sleep.
9. Eat foods that agree with you. Find those trigger foods and avoid them when in the height of training and racing. Again, if your body doesn't digest well, it can't use those resources and nutrients for your cycling goals.
10. Take time for yourself. Try to eliminate stress as much as possible and take a little time for yourself each day. You can't add hours in the day, and stressing over not being able to train like you would to won't change anything.
11. Keep smiling and have fun! Remember why we ultimately all do our great sport!
Work hard and enjoy!
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Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.