Archive for March, 2015
IT’S WHAT’S OUTSIDE THAT COUNTS
It turns out that it is what’s on the outside that counts.
At least when you’re talking about exercising in the heat. We always hear it’s core temperature that matters but that’s clearly not the whole story.
Core temperature limits performance but long before you reach that limit it’s your skin temperature that’s driving motivation and performance. We’ve all had that experience walking out the door to ride when it’s hot and immediately we are “recalculating” the time, distance and speed we had in mind when we were in that nice air conditioned room.
On a hot day your body is experiencing heat stress from three primary sources:
1. Internally generated heat from riding.
2. Radiant heat from the sun.
3. Convected heat from the pavement.
These three heat sources can rapidly reduce your drive and ability to ride long before your core temperature reaches its physiological maximum. Not to mention taking a whole lot of the enjoyment on the ride away.
Several studies show that lower skin temperature not only improves performance, endurance and pacing strategies, it also dramatically reduces the rate of fatigue. These findings aren’t just psychological, “in your head”. Lower skin temperature dramatically increases the thermal gradient from the hot blood flowing through your capillaries to the cooler skin. Since heat travels from high temps to low, improving – increasing this temperature drop facilitates the rapid removal of heat building up in your core and brain.
While adequate hydration is critical to managing the effects of heat stress on your body, both for core temperature and to prevent cardiovascular compromises, drinking doesn’t effectively take away the heat.
On hot days only evaporative cooling can actually lower skin temp. That’s where a cooling system like SPRUZZA plays such an important role in thermoregulation. By adding small amounts of water over your head, face, ears and neck you can actually lower the skin temperature by 15-25 degrees. The actual temp drop depends mostly on the speed your riding due to the wind chill effect. The impact on performance, perception and rate of fatigue can be dramatic.
Very few cyclists have ever had the experience of sustained real time cooling to this degree. Once you’ve tried it we think it will be hard to go back to just drinking a lot of water.
Hydration is critical to managing the effects of heat, but it doesn’t take the heat away.