How to handle the heat and humidity in Triathlon – part 2

> Related: How to handle the heat and humidity in Triathlon – part 1

Performing well in the heat and humidity

Despite the challenge, triathletes can develop mechanisms to train and compete, at a high performance in hot and humid conditions if they follow important aspects to achieve this:

Adjust your pace: Do not kid yourself, because you cannot keep the same rhythm that is used in milder climates. Have you seen any marathon record ever be broken in extreme conditions? Finding a realistic pace for extreme situations is the first step to success. We suggest that the athlete try something between 5% to 10% above its usual pace. For example, if you typically perform an Ironman marathon at a pace of 5’15 “/ km, it is prudent to start with a pace of 5’30” / km 5’45 “/ km. The same goes for cycling, if you’re conditioned to maintain an average speed of 33km / h on a dry and cold environment, it is prudent to ride at an average of 30km / h 31,5km / h to assess your real conditions in warmer or humid weather. This same concept can be applied to your training.

Races like Hawaii and in most countries in SEA requires special care. Photo: Wagner Araujo
Races like Hawaii and in most countries in SEA requires special care. Photo: Wagner Araujo

Get Adjusted: if you are doing a major competition, especially long distance events such as an Ironman or a Half Ironman it is important to arrive a few days prior to the event. Elite triathletes usually arrives 5-10 days prior to race day for acclimatizing purposes, since the workouts in the final phase are smaller and less stressful, the impact on the body ends up being more gentle. But still, for many, it’s not worth getting too early, as the training in extreme conditions may end taking too much out of you for race day.

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Stay on top of things on your race traveling: Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the trip. For example, the fastest flight to Kona, Hawaii from most Asian countries wont be less than 15 hours and may require an overnight flight. This will already have an impact on your hydration. During the pre-race days make sure to always be with a bottle of sports drinks in hand, especially when you spend hours in the Expo shopping and chatting with friends. Another important point is not to overdo it in the air-conditioned hotel. It may give you a running nose and stay all day in low humidity and 22◦C will not help you compete better.

Adjust your schedule: If you are not used to train at noon under the sun when conditions are relatively nice at home, why do it when you arrive at the race site? When you live in a place with hot and humid climate, you are likely to train early in the day or late in the afternoon. If you are not to used to it, you may need review your routine and sleep earlier. Remember that a workout in extreme heat is too draining and the benefitswont be worth it. Training in the evenings can also be an interesting option, as well as swimming at an indoor pool at lunchtime if that’s an option.

Replace your electrolytes: discuss with your nutritionist the proper amount of salt to replenish the salts lost in the days pre-race and during the race itself. In the days preceding the event, salt loss can be compensated with your own food. On race day, the ideal is to use salt tablets. If you live and train in a city with hot and humid weather, you need to reevaluate your diet considering this aspect

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Wear suitable apparel: review the videos of Hawaii Ironman and observe: how many elite athletes are racing in black? Few or almost none. As much as the fabrics these days are high tech, black absorbs heat, and that’s a fact. Under normal conditions, this is not enough to influence much, but in an Ironman the difference can be huge. Light and short clothes are essential for transpiration. Do not hesitate to wear a tritop in long races, even if it shows that little extra fat that you would prefer to hide, in the heat, you wont be worrying much about it.

Get used to it: if you happened to live in a hot and humid city, take it easy and start slow until your body adjusts. Look for local athletes and coaches who can give you tips to adapt to it.

Take care of yourself after exercise: the athlete must be care with hydration after workouts or evidence in difficult weather conditions, as this will allow a more efficient recovery. In day-to-day practice in hot and humid cities, this point is even more important.

> Related: How to handle the heat and humidity in Triathlon – part 1

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