Cold winter weather and indoor club action have forced your game inside for the past few months. Now that summer’s here, you’re ready to break out. But if you don’t take the right precautions when making the move to outdoor training, you’ll be back inside faster than you can say “heat wave.” For help and advice on working in high temps, we hit up Kansas City Wizards fitness coach David Tenney, whose team is used to playing in 100-degree plus weather.
Adapting Seasons don’t change from one day to the next, and neither should your training regimen. Tenney advises giving your body at least two weeks to adapt to the heat. “If you’re not used to training in a certain type of heat and you have a choice of shortening your session or making it less intense, I think shortening is always better,” he says. “If you’re used to training for an hour and a half and the temperature increases significantly, train for 50 minutes to an hour instead, for the first couple weeks. Your body isn’t ready—and therefore more prone to heat exhaustion, cramping or fluid loss those first few weeks of being outside again.”
Injury You are more susceptible to certain injuries when you head back outside. Tenney explains: “Indoor soccer has more little, tight movements, stopping/ starting and acceleration/deceleration, rather than longer sprints. Those movements lead to more ankle and collision injuries. Outside, you can be making 40-, 50-, 60 yard runs, which means your hamstrings need to be developed and strong enough to open your stride. We’ve found that those who play indoors a lot have to spend some time working on their hamstrings once they get back outside, because they haven’t done a lot with that real open stride.”
Timing The sun is strongest in the middle of the day. If you practice then, it will overpower you. The ideal training time? According to Tenney, it’s either early morning, ending by 11, or around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., when the sun is on its way down.
Clothing Clothes can make or break a man—and dark clothing that absorbs heat will definitely break you. Choose light-colored pieces with sweat-wicking technology, because “those fabrics pull moisture off you and keep you as cool as possible,” Tenney says.
Hydration What happens when you mix high temps with low H2O levels? “You run the risk of heat exhaustion [and] heat stroke,” he says. “But before that happens, there will be a decrease in your performance.” Tenney’s course of prevention: take water breaks every 15 minutes, have a sports drink after training and down water continuously until you go to bed.