Overheating while working out; how do I train for this?

I do this thing I call “mountain biking”; that is to say, I ride they type of bicycle which is commonly referred to as a “mountain bike”, and I do, in fact, ride it in the mountains, albeit in a manner in which dyed-in-the-wool mountain bikers would acknowledge, if at all, only with disdain and turned up nasal orifaces. I do, at times, brave singletrack and, on occasion, trails that the guidebooks refer to as “somewhat technical”, but I have yet, to find within my soul, sufficient courage to launch myself headfirst into, atop of, and subsequently over what said bikers call a “rock”, or what a geologist would identify in technical terms as a “big f***in’ boulder”.

But I digress. This morning, as it happens, I was winding, or perhaps better describe as wheezing, my way up a trail road (and already we can hear the sniggering from the hardcore among us) in the San Gabriels toward a modest topological feature known as Mt. Lukens. The early part of the road (from the NFS Fire Station just up Hwy 2 from La Canada) has a nice bit of coverage and is quite doable, if a bit steep, but up above the trees disappear and the road is in full sun, or what passes for it in the smog-ridden state of Southern California. Today, though, the inversion layer is sitting pretty low I was right up with the clear azure sky and Mr. Bright & Shiny peaking down like a Bill Clinton at a Kappa Delta lingerie party. While the ride is (mostly) within the means of my questionable fitness on a cool and cloudy day, the sun beating down and prohibiting, by methods quantifiable via the laws of thermodynamics and radiative heat transfer, the effective cooling of my personage. So, I found myself having to stop frequently and eventually, prematurely abort the voyage, owing to my lack of maintaining appropriate body temperature, even though my aerobic and muscular stamina was unchallenged. And yet, there were other people tooling around the mountains, riding in apparent comfort without so much as a by-your-leave regarding the unreasonably elevated temperature, leading me to believe that there is, within my methods or fitness, some lack of ability that others possess.

So I call out to others who choose or are forced to exercise in the full and bright of the Sun’s relentless outpouring of radiation, how do you learn/train/compensate for elevated heat, and what can I do to improve my ability to cope?


First, I check the heat index, and if it’s going to near or above the “Heat stroke likely” range (130+) I take a rest day. If it’s less then that, I just suck it up and suffer for the first couple hot weather runs. I find I get acclimated to the heat surprisingly fast, and after my first couple hot-weather workouts I don’t really notice the heat.

Not sure about mountain biking, but writing in (or, worse, reading) a long-winded question crafted in an awkward 19th century literary style tires the hell out of me. YMMV, of course. :wink:

Hey you ride like I do! I don’t ride boards nailed 12’ in the air between trees (I’ve been invited) and I don’t ride off cliffs either.

Dude we are neighbors! I live just down the 210 in Sylmar! I have never done this ride, but I do La Tuna canyon on a real regular basis. Do you want to ride sometime?

I would echo what Metacom says about getting used to it, however I do not pay any attention to the heat index. At my house there is a small hole in the wall near the front door called a crowbar hole. If I stick a crowbar out and it gets wet I know it is raining. If the crowbar melts, then I know it is too hot to ride. If the crowbar bends it may be a little windy that day, and if the crowbar won’t go through the hole due to ice, it may be a tad chilly. :smiley:
On hot summer days I carry a ton of water and hydrate like a motherfuck. If it is really hot, I will carry 100 oz in my camelback and a full waterbottle of Cytomax, or some similar product. If it is going to be a Looonnnng ride I may throw an extra bottle of water or two inside the camelback. I sip water all the time on the ride, and I know I am getting enough if I have to stop and pee every once and a while. My biggest problem on super hot days is sweat running down into my eyes, even with a sweat band. I sometimes think that Steve Prefontaine was wrong, and you can drown in sweat. :smiley:
I can tell you this the more you sweat on the ride, the better the shower feels when you get home.

I’ve done my fair share of hard exercise in the sub tropics. The answers are do more of it, lose weight (if that’s an issue) and drink a lot. Your capacity to perspire increases over time (although very slowly, I think). The skinnier you are the less you have to work and the greater the surface area to volume ratio of your body. As long as you have water within you to sweat, you’re 3/4ths of the way there.

Yeah, that’s my advice. Exercise out doors a lot to adapt yourself to the climate. (and, dude, how hot does it even get there in California? I’d probably be in a sweater. :slight_smile: ) I’m always amazed at how well I can adapt to 99+ heat when I exercise on a consistent basis. I also have the pet theory that using air conditioning constantly (work, car, home) makes it more difficult to adapt to outdoor temperatures so I use it sparingly.

Well, it’s been up in the upper 90’s and barely into triple digits, which in our semi-arid climate is nothing compared to where I grew up, but I’m more of a cold weather guy. It seems to be the sun that really gets me though; as long as I’m in the shade there’s no problem, but direct sunlight+strenuous exercise+no breeze seems to be a bad combo regardless of how much I drink. (As a child, I also seemed prone to heat exhaustion and on a couple of occasions, heat stroke, so I’m sensitive about it.)

I almost never use the A.C. in my car and don’t even have one at home (though my apartment, being buffered and shielded from the sun on all sides never gets too warm). I’m forced to endure air conditioning at work, and it can’t be too cold for the people who decry “the heat!” as soon as the thermometer hits 80 degrees, but that’s the breaks.