By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
For those that have trained with me across the nation, you may have noticed that I get some of the very best weather possible inside of my courses. You also may notice just how hard it is to be able to work under these extreme conditions. It is not that I am a tough guy, it is much more about the fact that I know what I need to do to make it possible.
Back in the day when I took 15-20 tactical courses a year as a student, I would plan my training days during the very best weather conditions. If it was going to be 110 degrees, I was going to be there. If it was going to 20 degrees with a freezing rain, I was going to be there. If the humidity was going to be over 90%, I was going to be there. Call me stupid, but when everyone else was too afraid to train, I was taking advantage of the very best training environments possible. It would be me, a couple of other “hard-core” guys, and an instructor rewarding “the very best students” with “the very best course” he could put on.
This was all about self-selection.
If I wanted the best training, I had to be willing to do whatever needed to be done, to be in the right position to receive the best training.
The summer is coming!
You can sit at home in your air conditioning reading the AAR’s or you can be out there training with “the best of the best.”
As an instructor, there is nothing more motivating than training in a course with the most motivated students, willing to put in the hardest of work. This is a situation where the instructor feeds off the students ambition and “the student benefit” pays off in spades.
That is the truth of the matter, so let’s look at what you need to know to be able to train in hot weather and still remain comfortable and safe.
Proper hydration is an absolute must! You need to be properly hydrated before the course starts, you need to keep ahead of the hydration curve throughout the training time period, and you need to hydrate after the course is over. You need to drink more fluids that you think that you actually need. You should be urinating once and hour and it should be clear. If you are urinating yellow you are behind the curve. You should be supplementing your water intake with some form of sport drink. G2 Gatorade is not the very best, but it can be bought anywhere and that is important for the instructor/student that flies. Regular Gatorade has too much sugar……go G2. But, it is the water that is the most important of the fluids.
3 to 1 ratio
3 parts water to 1 part G2 Gatorade (or equivalent sports drink.) They can be taken in separately or they can be mixed together, but make sure that you are drinking three times more water than G2.
I have had courses where I have poured 6 quarts of fluids inside of eight hours! This is done all while being properly hydrated before and after the class.
Another good way to replenish electrolytes is by eating bananas.
Always bring some sort of salty snack. I like salty peanuts (good protein for energy fuel) pretzels are also.
Shade, use it whenever you can!
Light color cloths are cooler than dark color cloths.
Sun screen is a must…..get the highest SPF you can find.
A hat for the head and something that you can wrap around the back of your neck to protect you from the sun.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine before and after extreme weather training, because they are diuretics.
The one’s above are things that everyone knows about. Here is one that very few student do, but have the biggest effect on staying cool.
Have plenty of “junk” water for soaking hats, bandanas, shirts and shemaghs. The value of the quality use of a shemagh can not be understated. This is not about looking tacti-cool, it is about staying as cool as possible so that you can take advantage of the very best course offering available. When I pull out my shemagh, soak it down, and wrap it around me neck I always get some looks and some comments. But it is one of the very best things that you can do for yourself while training in high heat. They hold a huge amount of water and they stay cool/wet for such a very long time period. They cool the blood flow to the head and reduce the chances of heat stroke.
To not understand the value of this piece of equipment is something that needs to be put to rest.
My first experience with a shemagh was when a student was wearing one. Here I was, baking hot, and soaking my bandana once every twenty minutes. I was running the line and doing my typical range master tricks (hand on the students shoulder so he can not turn and point his gun at me) and a felt just how cool his wet shemagh was. I remember making fun of him in my head just a couple of hours before. All of that ignorance disappeared in just one touch.
Here is my best advice to you besides the proper hydration………BUY A SHEMAGH!
I bring my schemagh in my ice chest, inside of a large zip lock bag, partially filled with ice water. It goes on dripping wet. In most cases I re-wet the schemagh by just pouring cold water into it, while still wearing it. In severe heat it comes back off and goes back into the ice water filled zip lock bag and is completely revitalized.
Always remember, if you want to take advantage of the very best training opportunities in extreme weather conditions, look for advice and tips from the guys that do it on a regular basis.
It can be the difference between a great class and a horrible class……..and literally between life and death.