training in the heat.
Yesterday I did the normal ride to Lawrence. Mid day, 100+ degrees. Again. WTF? This is abnormal for Kansas. We’re on pace to break the number of days above 100 already and it’s only mid July. Anyway, it rained for over an hour at my house last night, so it was muggy. And I felt okay. Maybe better than okay. I’m thinking that there is a chance that I’m used to this stupid, extreme temperature.
Ned sent me an email a few years ago. I was looking for it, but it must be on another computer. Anyway, it was a list of ways that athletes can raise their red count/hemoglobin/blood volume naturally. At least, semi naturally. It had a whole list of things on it. I can’t remember them all, but I do know three.
1. Train at altitude. That one is easy and well known.
2. Donate blood. Your body will replenish the blood and after 28 days or so, it really doesn’t know when to stop, so it over produces some.
3. Train in the heat. Something to do with an increase of blood volume. I couldn’t find a specific article on it, but this one says–
When endurance athletes train in temperatures in excess of 77°F (25°C), the body will become accustomed to retaining the mineral sodium, which is commonly excreted through the skin’ pores when the body is exposed to significant heat (sweating). The greater the level of sodium remaining in the body, the greater the amount of water that will be retained by the body, which has the effect of maintaining blood volumes. Blood volumes will be increased through hot weather training within 14 days.
I’ve never had the chance to test out #2. I’ve donated blood a few times the last few years, but always in the winter when I’m not training hard. I’ve obviously felt the affects of altitude and know a lot about it personally. But, #3 is interesting. The 77 degree number seems silly low, especially for cyclists, but the article I read before was stating numbers in the upper 90’s/100’s and how your blood volume increases as you train in those temperatures and get dehydrated.
I was then looking around on the internet and found this article from the New York Times that shows a study done at the University of Oregon’s human physiology department. This study was done only on elite cyclists and the results were pretty unbelievable. The riders that trained in the heat, 104 degrees for 90 at 50% max VO2 improved their performance by 4-8%. Here are the important finding for the study-
Heat acclimation increased Vo2max by 5% in cool (66.8 ± 2.1 vs. 70.2 ± 2.3 ml·kg−1·min−1, P = 0.004) and by 8% in hot (55.1 ± 2.5 vs. 59.6 ± 2.0 ml·kg−1·min−1, P = 0.007) conditions. Heat acclimation improved time-trial performance by 6% in cool (879.8 ± 48.5 vs. 934.7 ± 50.9 kJ, P = 0.005) and by 8% in hot (718.7 ± 42.3 vs. 776.2 ± 50.9 kJ, P = 0.014) conditions. Heat acclimation increased power output at lactate threshold by 5% in cool (3.88 ± 0.82 vs. 4.09 ± 0.76 W/kg, P = 0.002) and by 5% in hot (3.45 ± 0.80 vs. 3.60 ± 0.79 W/kg, P < 0.001) conditions. Heat acclimation increased plasma volume (6.5 ± 1.5%) and maximal cardiac output in cool and hot conditions (9.1 ± 3.4% and 4.5 ± 4.6%, respectively).
Here is a link to the abstract.
Those results are pretty substantial. TT performance increased by 8% and power at lactate threshold by 5%. And Vo2 in the heat increasing by 8%. Wow. Those numbers are off the charts. And this happened by only training in heat for an hour and a half a day for 10 days. I wonder what the results would be if it was in the heat at altitude?
Maybe this is the reason I’m feeling good right now. I don’t really know. I need to find a race pretty soon to test it out personally.