Monirah Aldraiweesh: Saudi-Arabian cyclist teaches how to train in hot summers

As summer arrives, it brings along scorching temperatures that pose an extra challenge for cyclists exploring roads and trails. The increasing heat raises several concerns and risks that cyclists must remain mindful of. Highly experienced with riding in the heat is Monirah Aldraiweesh, who regularly visits Girona for long periods of time. In her home country, Saudi Arabia, temperatures can get up to 50 degrees Celsius, but that does not stop her from riding. “Summer in Girona is like early spring in Saudi Arabia.” 

By: Carles Juan Ramon / Sportcat

Monirah Aldraiweesh, born and raised in Saudi Arabia, discovered her passion for cycling during the pandemic in late 2020. Although racing was not popular in her country at the time, Aldraiweesh became part of Saudi Arabia’s first women’s national team in late 2021. Since then, she has participated in several international competitions and aspires to become a professional cyclist in the European cycling scene.

If anyone is experienced with hot summers, and how the heat affects cycling performances, it is Aldraiweesh. “Absolutely”, she agrees, “the high temperatures have an impact on my heart rate, and the humidity can also hinder performance.” To fight these negative effects, she has developed specific approaches to maintain optimal performance despite the heat.

Carles Juan: Do you find that high temperatures affect your cycling performance? What approaches do you take to maintain optimal performance despite the heat?

Monirah Aldraiweesh: Absolutely, high temperatures affect performances in many ways. I try to avoid the sun whenever possible, so in Saudi Arabia, we train before sunrise or after sunset. For instance, we start training around 4.00AM and finish before 8.00AM. Even though it’s still hot, it’s more bearable. Hydration is key. I make sure to stay very hydrated. Lastly, sometimes I stay indoors, particularly if the humidity is high.

CJ: Do you use special hydration strategies to stay hydrated in these temperatures?

MA: I try to consume at least 700 ml of electrolytes per hour and hydrate regularly throughout the day. Hydration is key to maintaining optimal performance in extreme heat.

CJ: You said that humidity also plays an important role. Can you share your experiences on what it has been like to ride in Girona in hot conditions?

MA: August in Girona offers a climate reminiscent of spring in Saudi Arabia. Contras-ting with the high humidity levels of up to 95% experienced during summer nights in Saudi Arabia, Girona’s conditions are significantly more enjoyable. Despite the warm sun, the humidity in Girona does not impact me as significantly as it does back home. Cycling in Girona during the summer becomes a far more tolerable endeavor in comparison.

CJ: Do you make specific changes to your training routine in relation to the hot weather? What are they?

MA: At the beginning of the summer, my training stays mostly the same. However, as the months of July and August progress, when the heat becomes less bearable and temperatures reach 50°C in the afternoon, there is not much that can be done to improve the situation. In general, I reduce the volume of training. For instance, shorter but more intense rides and train early in the morning to avoid the heat of the sun. Some-times, if I want to maintain the same training volume, I do workouts in two sessions during the day, combining an early outdoor session and an indoor session.

CJ: What additional precautions or safety measures should be taken when training in extreme heat?

MA: Always listen to your body! Everyone is different and sometimes even if the people around you feel good and you don’t, it’s best not to push it. Sometimes, it’s better to stop than to push your body towards a worse state, such as heat stroke or dehydration. Be sure to watch for signs of fatigue or exhaustion and take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.

This story is part of Nafent Magazine volume 7. Read the full story in our digital or paper magazine. Go to our webshop, or buy yours at one of our 200 partner places.

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