Training and racing in hot weather is challenging, especially if you aren’t acclimated to the weather yet. It takes approximately one to two weeks to acclimatize to the heat. So if you know you’ll be training or racing in hot weather, then planning ahead is very important.
But sometimes, a sudden change in weather can happen. And what you thought would be cooler might end up being very different than what you planned on racing in.
Even if you don’t have time to acclimate, there are a few tips you can keep in mind when racing and training in the heat. But remember that with tough conditions, you can’t always race to beat a certain time. Pushing yourself beyond what your body is capable of in the heat will result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So keep everything in perspective and focus on staying steady and taking care of yourself. Remember that your race time is secondary when it comes to extreme conditions and your health and getting through the race are the priority.
Hot Weather Training & Racing Tips:
- Try to run in the shade whenever possible.
- It’s ok to adjust your effort level and take walking breaks when you need them.
- Hot and sunny weather can cause chapped lips, so use lip balm. If you can carry it with you, you’ll be able to reapply when needed, but be careful about it melting in extreme heat. Try to keep it in a relatively cooler place.
- Make sure you remain hydrated, but don’t overhydrate. It’s especially important to get in your electrolytes. Using a hydration vest is an option, but it will keep your back warmer than if you used a hydration belt. If there are aid stations every mile, then you’ll stay cooler by using a hydration belt instead of a vest and refilling when needed.
- Some plain water is fine, but you’ll need electrolytes to prevent hyponatremia. Using products like Skratch Labs, Base Salt, Salt Stick, Nuun, etc. is very important. If you’re in a pinch, regular table salt will also help.
- Use those aid stations to keep yourself cool by either running through a spray station or pouring water over yourself. Just be aware of any chafing problems this might cause, especially if you end up with wet socks. Remember that prevention of chafing is much better than soothing already chafed skin, so use anti-chafing products like Skin Slick or TriSlide.
- Wear light colored, moisture wicking clothing to keep yourself cool and chafe-free.
- Don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and a cap or visor. Arm coolers are another item you may want to consider.
- Choosing between a visor or a cap is a personal decision. Try out both to see which keeps you cooler. Some people like wearing a visor to let the heat off from their head. Others like to keep the sun from beating down on their scalp by wearing a cap. With a cap, you’ll also be able to put wet sponges or ice in your cap to keep yourself cool.
- If you have a special needs bag during an Ironman race, consider using it for a change of clothes and shoes (it will be nice to have dry stuff to put on if you’ve been pouring water over yourself), extra electrolytes, anti-chafing products, lip balm, sunblock, etc.