THE T:ZERO BLOG
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It has been a sweltering summer here in South East Queensland with the air soaked with humidity and the summer sun bearing down on us as if trying to prove its intensity. Training this summer has seen runners that return looking like they have been swimming. Cyclists tearing up the asphalt with a slick trail of sweat spraying out behind. Swimmers - well, they were just enjoying that swim session a good notch or two above their levels from previous years. Further north in Qld, down south on those scorching days and over in the NT we can only imagine what you were going through….
Never fear though. We humans are adaptable creatures and compared to most mammals absolutely excel at exercising in and adapting to hot conditions. Apparently one of our evolutionary advantages is being able to run down an antelope or similar large dinner beast in the heat by outlasting the said prey. This is due to our ability to sweat and cool being fair superior to our prey’s talent in the heat. Good to know next time you are outback and short a meal…
Training in the heat and racing in the heat sure do present their challenges though. With deepest regret I inform you that it is fact that humans are slower in the heat – our pace and our power will never be as high on a 35 degree vs a 22 degree race day – sorry to all the egos, but that is just they way it rolls. Your body is busily trying to execute two functions that are competing for the same blood supply – exercise and the regulation of body temperature.
I pause here for a little nerd moment – I love the science of training and racing in the heat and have been down many a rabbit hole of research and devoured a geeky textbook or two here. Most recent deep dive was a pretty extensive course on just that – Training and Racing in the Heat – and I was definitely in in a bubble of physiology study joy….sorry to digress, back to actual useful information!
I previously talked about heat adaptation here … https://www.tzeromultisport.com/tzero-blog/category/heat in my last heat blog. Doing some training sessions in the heat or passive heat work to get some pretty sweet adaptations going will definitely help come race day. A lower core body temperature, more pace and power for the same heart rate vs your non adapted state and an improved sweat response. Hands up for that anyone?
Heat adaptation does require some planning though – to get the right dose, the right conditions and to monitor the response. Quite likely that if you have been training in the heat this summer, you have inadvertently notched up some points on the adaptation board. Go you!! But to refine and optimise your heat adaptations, it is best to go with a plan that considers your training, your response and includes some definite monitoring. Chat to your coach on this one.
The other piece of the pie though is how you prep around race day and how you execute your race in the heat. Taking some time to think and plan about these may well be the difference between a course PB, finishing across the line or ending up in the medical tent.
The aim of thermoregulation for triathlon in the heat is to limit the rise in body temperature. Get your cool shady thinking caps on here – plan some race day strategies to up your chances of a great race day experience! What to do, what to do…..Well here are some suggestions. Tokyo Olympics anyone?
1. Stay cool – avoid warming up before! Stay out of the sun where you can. Precooling strategies are less effective than other sports because we swim first but avoiding a rise in body temp before you start is a great strategy.
2. Hydration: Start your race well hydrated. This is one of the most important strategies you can employ pre race. Consider and plan what you are going to consume hydration-wise during your event. Try to keep your drinks as cool as possible. Freeze drink bottles if they get a chance to thaw out!
3. Clothing – consider wearing light coloured clothing as black tends to soak up the summer sun! Do some testing if you have multiple race suits and choose your coolest one – you will thank yourself on the run!
4. Sunscreen – use it! Stick to a non oil based product and apply well before your race! Thick oil based sunscreens may actually impair your ability to sweat and cool yourself.
5. Cooling strategies mid race – water over your head, ice in your hat and down your race suit, cold sponges and cool fluids are all effective ways of improving your thermal comfort mid race.
6. Pacing – discuss with your coach your best pacing strategy. Plan to modify your pace and power compared to more temperate conditions. Going out on the run at 30 secs per km faster than your planned pace in the heat is a sure fire way to raise that core body temp. And send your chance of race success in the wrong direction!
In reality, there is a whole body of science around training for and racing in the heat and many finer details that could further improve your chance of success. I’ll stop at the question around whether we should wear antiperspirant in the heat? Believe me, the thermoregulation gurus actually have scientific opinions on this…
Until next time, all the best of personal success for your hot and sweaty races.
Cick here to learn more about Coach Heidi Sowerby
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An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!