Zone3’s Guide to Summer Triathlon Training


Too hot to tri? Here are some tips we have compiled to help keep you cool when the heat is on in races this summer. A lot of you probably saw the extreme effect heat stroke can have on a competitor after watching Alastair Brownlee carry Jonny over the line in Cozumel at the 2016 world triathlon championships. So, let’s try and keep you cool during your summer triathlon training…

Practice

If you have planned to race in a hot country or know in advance there are chances the weather will be warm for your race, practice as much as you can by training in warm conditions before the big day. It typically takes two weeks for you to adapt to warm weather conditions so try swimming in your wetsuit in the pool, or swimming after disability sessions have been on (this normally means the pool will be a few degrees warmer). Turn the fan off during turbo sessions and stick on an electric heater, and try running on a treadmill in another layer of clothing to increase your body’s core temperature.

Hydration

Drink when you are thirsty. It is recommended hydrating to your thirst and, for distance athletes, consuming 60 to 100 grams of sugar per hour (around three gels ) particularly when racing 70.3 and longer.

Remember, optimal levels of hydration cannot be achieved in just an hour or 2. It takes around 72 hours to achieve this, so in the days leading up to a race, this is when you need to start thinking about hydration. Keep a drink with you at all times, on your bedside table, when you are traveling and when you finish training. Try to consume electrolyte rich fluids and not just water to keep the mineral levels and salt high in the build up to your race.

Reduce your warmup

There is no need to spend 30 minutes before the start of your race doing strides and a long warm up when the weather is warm. Your muscles will likely already be warm from the surrounding temperature so concentrate on keeping your body cool. Some mobilisation exercises for your shoulder before the swim will be enough to warm you up before the race.

Race time

During your race make sure you start taking on fluids early, do not leave it until you are at the end of your bike split before you start consuming fluids, once out of the swim start consuming fluids to keep that core temperature down and hydration levels up. Drinking too quickly will only lead to you feeling full and bloated. Try and consume drinks you have practiced within training and avoid using a sports product which is new to you on the day of a race.

Food

Try and avoid foods that have a high thermogenic impact, foods which are harder to digest, as they can cause your body to warm up faster. Consider practising a pre-race breakfast with a low thermogenic impact before race day. Then implementing this strategy for your warm weather race.

When it comes to pre-race food, it’s about what works for you personally, so the best way would be to practice with different foods. While racing, sports drinks and energy gels provide you with the energy that you need but are very easy to digest – however everyone reacts differently so the best way to find the right nutrition for you would be to practice.

Remember to bring all energy gels and race nutrition with you to your race, as the race you are doing may provide a different type of energy gel which may effect you differently.

Clothing – Dress for the occasion!

When racing in the heat you need to protect yourself from the sun, our Lava Tri suit range is a great choice for this, the white of the suit not only helps to reflect the sun, but the sleeves also help to protect your skin from direct sunlight and prevent sunburn on your shoulders. Pair this with the Zone3 race visor for even better protection, Visors allow the heat to rise from your head while blocking the sun from your face. Also, sunglasses will protect you from the sun and improve visibility.

Listen to your body

Be aware of the signs of heat stroke…

  • Temperature starting to rapidly rise
  • Breathing becomes fast and shallow
  • Nausea/dizziness/feeling disorientated

If you start experiencing these symptoms, it is advised to seek medical help urgently.

Even 1-2% dehydration can have an effect on your performance, your brain, eyes, blood and vital organs are all largely comprised of water so small amounts of dehydration can have a significant negative effect on cognitive function, decision making, awareness and performance.

Goals and expectations

If you ran your PB marathon in perfect conditions, on a flat course on a nice 12 degrees spring day. Do not expect to smash your personal best by 10 minutes when the temperature soars above 30 degrees at the end of an ironman. Adjust your goals and expectations for the race conditions. You are not doing yourself an injustice by not running a personal best in difficult conditions.

Post-race

RRR, rehydrate, refuel, repair. It is always important to try and remember the 3 R’s following a race. But even more so when racing in the heat. Firstly try and replenish lost water and electrolytes. Followed by the lost carbohydrates, this doesn’t have to be a plate of chips, there are plenty of sports drinks that contain high amounts of carbohydrate and finally repair your body using proteins either by eating them in food or using a protein recovery drink. This will help you recover much quicker from your exertion in the sun.