Racing a Triathlon is a great challenge for anyone, given the three
sports you have to prepare for, the distance of a particular event, as
well as the conditions at each event. Kain Performance has a big group
heading to Hawaii for the Honu 70.3 Ironman race next week, so I wanted to
give out some tips for racing well in the heat (and just surviving).
Hawaii is known for being hot and humid and it can also be windy. Racing
on the Big Island is notorious for its heat, humidity and wind.
I have had some very good races in the heat (I Won the AG 40-44 at the
ITU World Championship in 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii), but I have also had
some very bad races too (I cramped so badly at the ITU Long Course World
Championships in Nice, France in 2002, I was forced to walk/jog the final
5K and was cramping badly at the finish).
Here are a few things I have learned about racing in the HEAT over the
1) HYDRATE – Stay hydrated!! You sweat A LOT in the heat! You may not
think you are sweating so much, but you are! Drink a lot of water! I like
to say you should feel like you have to pee about 1/2 way through the
bike, or you aren’t drinking enough. Drink more water, than anything else.
I usually stick to only water in a 1/2 Iron Distance, with maybe a little
electrolyte drink. Have two bottles on your bike, one that is just water,
one that is your favorite electrolyte/carbo drink. Use the one with water
to splash in your face if sweat gets in your eyes and burns. Splashing
Gatorade in your face will only make it worse!
2) ELECTROLYTES (Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium) – You need to replenish
your electrolytes. Bring Salt Tablets with you on the bike and run. I like
to take 2 salt tablets every hour. (I use Salt Stick, which works well.
Sport Legs are also good, which have more Magnesium in them). I will take
2 Salt Stick, then 1-2 Sport Legs every hour, in a long race in the heat.
If you sweat a lot, you may need to take more. If you feel muscle cramps
starting, then take more Salt Stick/Sport Legs.
3) ACCLIMATE – Try and train when it is hot outside! I know it is not the
most comfortable thing in the world to do, but it will help you acclimate
to the hotter weather you may experience on race day. It is also good to
get to the race venue about 4-5 days in advance. This will help you
acclimate to the heat and humidity. Try to avoid using the air conditioner
too much in the days leading up to an event in the heat. Keep the windows
down and enjoy being in the warm weather! Try and stay out of the sun for
long periods in the days leading up to a race.
4) SWEAT RATE – Everyone has a different sweat rate. If you know you have
a high sweat rate, then you may need more salt/magnesium. Be prepared, as
this is Key to a good race in the heat. Drink a lot of water! I also will
put more sodium on my food, or eat food with more sodium (like salty
pretzels), leading up to a hot race.
5) STAY COOL! – Wear a hat on the run! I like to put ice in my hat while I
run. This helps keep your head cool, when it can get really hot out in the
lava fields! Visors do not work for holding ice, so wear a hat! Arm
coolers have also become popular in hot weather.
6) PRE-HYDRATE – Be sure you hydrate for a few days before the race. You
want to stay hydrated, but not “OVER” hydrate. You should not have to pee
every hour the night before a race, but you may 1-2 times if well
hydrated. If you drink to much, you run the risk of “Over-Hydrating” and
set yourself up for a condition known as “Hyponatremia”. You drink too
much water and flush your system of needed electrolytes.
7) SUNSCREEN – Be sure and put on sunscreen in the morning of the race and
again later if possible. Your overall body temperature will rise if you
get sunburn! Wear sunscreen!
8) VASOLINE/SPORT SLICK – I like to put vasoline on my feet for the run.
You sweat a lot and you dump water on your head and your shoes get wet and
you can get blisters! Use vasoline, or Sport Slick to avoid this from
9) NUTRITION – Be sure and practice (train) with what you will use on race
day. I like to drink water on the bike, as I find other drinks can upset
my stomach in hot weather. If you are comfortable with an electrolyte
drink, like Cytomax, or Gatorade, or a carb drink, like Carbo Pro, then
alternate between water and electrolyte/carb drink. I also take a gel
every 40-45 minutes while on the bike and run. I use E-Gels, as they have
more calories (150) and more sodium, than most gels. I also will use Gu
(only 100 calories), as it tastes good and my stomach seems to handle it
well. Whatever you use, be sure and train with it before race day! You
should be confident in your nutrition before race day!
10) RACE DAY!! – I like to start the day with a light breakfast of oatmeal
about 2-2.5 hours before the start. I then have an energy bar while I set
up transition about an hour before the start. I then like to take a Gel
about 5-10 minutes before the start. Have your nutrition ready to grab as
you start the ride and run. I take a flask full of Salt Stick and another
of Sport Legs on the bike. I also pre-tape E-Gels on my bike so I can
easily rip them off and take one every hour. I will tape 3-4 gels on my
bike, then take 1-2 in my race jersey. I usually have a couple gels by my
run shoes, as well as some extra salt tablets, in case I need more, or
should lose some on the bike. I will run with a flask of Salt tabs/Sport
Legs, as well as gels and some Clif Shots (Margarita flavor is great, as
it has more sodium:)!
Have fun out there!!!
Good Luck!! NO KAIN NO GAIN!!!!!
About Your Coach: Pete Kain is the Head Coach of Kain Performance
Multi-Sport! He has raced the Hawaii Ironman World Championships 4 times
and the Honu 70.3 Ironman on the Big Island 2 times. He has raced numerous
times in the heat of Mexico, Australia, Hawaii, the West Indies, Florida
and on occasion, California! He is a 7-Time USA Triathlon National AG
Champion and a 4-Time ITU Triathlon AG World Champion. He was voted USA
Triathlon Overall Open Male “Triathlete of the Year” in 2002. Racing in
the heat is manageable, but you do need to be prepared!