Three quick tips for thriving in steamy temps.
This article was originally published in the Sep./Oct. 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Instead of melting in the inevitable heat, go in to hot conditions with a plan using these three tips from coach Scott Fliegelman, owner of FastForward Sports based in Boulder, Colo.
Rehearse your way to a successful sodium protocol, Fliegelman says. He uses the pre-race guidelines of coach Bob Seebohar, who suggests acute sodium loading in his e-book Sodium Loading Protocol for Endurance Athletes. Experiment with salt tabs, table salt and high-sodium sports drinks in training sessions and proactively take in more sodium the night before and morning of a race. Because there’s a wide range of recommendations for sodium during exercise—everywhere from 500 milligrams per liter of fluid per hour all the way up to 2,900 milligrams—it’s important to test your methods in race-like conditions during training.
Recent research touting the cooling benefits of slushies prompted Fliegelman to start drinking one 30 minutes before a hot race start. “There’s a 7-Eleven practically everywhere, and sugary water before a long race can’t hurt,” he says. If racing Ironman, he suggests putting a frozen bottle in your bike and run special needs bags in the morning so that when you retrieve them later, they will be in a perfect slushie state. “You can also try it in rehearsal—have a cooler in your car and grab a bottle [deep into] your long ride.”
The most important step in dealing with heat is to bring down your pace and effort level to realistically match the conditions. “If you have the opportunity to rehearse in similar conditions, do a long ride at approximately race-day effort,” he says. “You’re going to learn that you can’t maintain the same power output that you can in cooler conditions.” The brain is most concerned about cooling your skin, so taking it back 5–10 watts in hot temps will save you for your run. Fliegelman suggests “proactive walk breaks” during the run portion: Use aid stations for 30-second tasks like taking in fluids, eating a gel or grabbing some ice cubes.