Temperatures are expected to be high at Tokyo 2020, and it’s vital that you prepare accordingly to support your safety as well as your performance.
Practising and honing your acclimation, hydration and cooling techniques before your target event is key to achieving success in hot weather.
These expert-led top tips come from the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission’s Adverse Weather Impact Working Group. Check out their extended advice here.
1. Acclimatise to the weather
There is no better way to prepare for the conditions Tokyo will expose you to than by training in similar conditions beforehand. It takes up to 14 days to acclimatise, so commencing heat-adaptation training two weeks prior to competition should be your target.
Furthermore, attending an initial heat acclimatisation camp several weeks prior to an event, in addition to a training camp immediately before, may help to enhance the rate at which you can adapt at the pre-competition camp.
2. Engage in heat acclimation
While acclimatisation is the act of training and competing in a natural environment, acclimation is when you prepare in an artificial environment. This is another way to adapt to hot conditions, like in special purpose-built training chambers where heat and humidity can be adjusted. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a purpose-built chamber, improvised low-tech hot rooms can be used, even with basic heating and other methods to warm a room.
Other techniques include wearing extra clothing to increase heat stimulus, hot water immersion, and sauna bathing pre- or post-training. These can provide benefits, reducing the time required for acclimatisation upon arrival to a new environment, though actively training in hot conditions is ideal.
HYDRATING YOURSELF CORRECTLY DURING COMPETITION IS KEY IN HOT CONDITIONS, AND CREATING AND STICKING TO A HYDRATION PLAN CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE TO YOUR PERFORMANCE.
3. Develop a hydration plan
Hydrating yourself correctly during competition is key in hot conditions, and creating and sticking to a hydration plan can make a big difference to your performance. Training and competing in a warm environment will cause profuse sweating, which may lead to progressive dehydration, disrupting performance and health – which is why a plan is so important.
Everyone’s habits will differ, so make sure you speak to your doctor and coach about what’s right for you, but it is still essential to take on fluids before, during and after exercise. For hot-weather training and competition, recovery drinks should include sodium, carbohydrate and, if necessary, protein to help the recovery process.
Developing your own way to stay hydrated should be done long before your target event, giving you and your body enough time to adapt before competition.
4. Use appropriate equipment
Your choice of equipment can play a large role in your performance, especially in hot weather. Wearing UV-ray blocking sunglasses in a dark tint, known as category 3, will help to protect your eyes, while water-based sunscreen (non-greasy) is usually preferable to oil-based sunscreen, as the latter may affect sweating.
Light-coloured clothing can also help to protect you, as it reduces the effect of the sun’s radiation, but most importantly, you should always choose clothing that allows sweat evaporation, helping you to stay cool.
5. Create a pre-cooling strategy
Keeping your body cool before the start of competition can be vital to performing well. Where possible, your warm-up should take place in the shade before an event, and you should also consider using ice vests, cold towels or fanning to keep your body temperature low. Internal pre-cooling methods can also be used, for example cold fluid or ice slurry ingestion, which help to regulate your body temperature.
You should decide on your cooling strategies long in advance of your target event, and test your routine multiple times in training. Ideally, you should do this during your acclimatisation so that, when the time comes, your pre-cooling strategy has been fully perfected and comes naturally to you.
YOU SHOULD DECIDE ON YOUR COOLING STRATEGIES LONG IN ADVANCE OF YOUR TARGET EVENT, AND TEST YOUR ROUTINE MULTIPLE TIMES IN TRAINING.