Racing in the Heat: Tips and Tricks
Updated: Jun 14
By Coach Gunnar
Pay attention to your fluid intake several days leading up to your race. On the day before the race, I try to avoid just sipping on plain water. I use an electrolyte drink from Precision Hydration instead. PH 1500 is a hypertonic electrolyte drink designed to help you start your race in a hyperhydrated state. I use this product in the afternoon/evening before a race in hot conditions and then again about three hours before the race starts. It’s important to drink enough to quench your thirst but not to force it, because too much liquid can result in exercise-associated hyponatremia.
I bring a small cooler to put in transition filled with my “ice bags.” The night before the race, I take four pieces of women’s hosiery (cut to 8 inches) and fill them with crushed ice and then tie it at the ends. Just remember to take them out of the freezer and bring them in the morning. You can stuff these into your kit for racing, such as the chest area during the bike and during the run, your upper back, chest, and under your hat.
Don’t put your wetsuit on too early and stand around. This will raise your body temperature and heart rate. Get into the water 15 minutes before the race starts to do an easy race warmup or just float around to stay cool.
Prior to mounting the bike, I put a pre-made crushed “ice bag” down the front of my tri kit. Once on the bike, make sure to drink an electrolyte solution. I use PH 500 mixed with cold water (and crushed ice). In addition, I will grab whatever cold water bottles they may offer at aid stations and pour them over the front of my thighs, shoulders, and head. I will also use the cold water to rinse out my mouth. Again... drink to thirst!
For the run portion of the triathlon, place “ice bags” down your front and upper back, and under your hat if it fits. These will usually stay cold at least through the first 5k+ of the run. It will drip cold water onto your skin, providing constant cooling and heat evaporation. I also make sure that at every aid station l grab a cup of water to drink and try to put one or two cups of water on top of my head or down my race suit.
I also carry a water bottle (Nathan makes great hand-held systems) that I freeze the night before and keep in my cooler. I make sure to use an electrolyte solution in this bottle as well. I will sip on this throughout the run.
After the race, make sure to cool down right away to reduce heat stress and speed your recovery. I like to jump in the lake or the ocean if it's convenient. Don't forget to rehydrate with a drink of cold water or an electrolyte solution.
Other interesting products:
https://www.omius.io: Headband which amplifies the surface area of your skin by 5 times, enhancing its cooling capacity. Used most recently by Olympic athletes in the Men’s and Women’s Triathlon.
Ice Hat: Nathan product: There are pockets on the side of the hat where you can place ice.
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