How can you prepare for a warm weather triathlon? How do you stop from getting overheated? What if you don’t live in a hot country to train? What do you do if you do get too hot? I’ve had all these questions myself, but after completing IRONMAN Kona, where it’s hot and humid, I feel like I’ve finally cracked how to deal with it.
It got too hot
Before I go into how to handle warm weather for a triathlon, I’ve got to take you back to December 2021 when I was racing at IRONMAN Indian Wells in Greater Palm Springs. The race would be my very first 70.3 distance but also would be my very first race dealing with hot conditions. The thing is, we checked out race conditions prior to booking, when average temperature was going to be around 18 degrees. 2021 race, it was not 18 degrees, try more like 30! It’s safe to say neither my husband or I were prepared for those kinds of conditions, so being significantly dehydrated we both felt it hard on the run.
More hot races
Fast forward to 2023 when I took on my next 70.3 at IRONMAN Staffordshire, and the same thing happened again. However, not due to my lack of planning, I’d just lost my nutrition and hydration after hitting a pot hole. It was also a hotter day than expected. One I was also not prepared for. To say that heat was an anxiety pull for me in triathlon, would be an understatement. I was so concerned about dehydrating and feeling terrible because of that, I had to focus on being more in control of it for IRONMAN Kona, where I knew it was 100% going to be hot and humid.
The plan to tackle the heat
The only way I was going to get better at it, was training in the heat. I’d considered all options especially what I could do at home. Things like training at the hottest point of the day, as ordinarily I’d do my training in the morning before it was too warm. I knew I needed to force myself to be uncomfortable in the heat, so I’d have no fans when I was training indoors either. It was obviously not great, but it was helping.
Ultimately the UK weather isn’t for long enough, hot enough. I had to get out of the country somewhere else and heat train. As this race was going to be a long full day, in order to get round, I had to take it seriously. I headed over to Club La Santa in Lanzarote for three reasons. 1. It’s always hot 2. Club La Santa has everything you need. 3. Lanzarote is hot, but it’s also windy.
Yes, I forgot to mention about IRONMAN Kona, that whilst it’s also toasty, it’s also very windy in places. I needed to prepare myself to handle intense cross winds and blasts whilst out on the bike.
Changing location again
Club La Santa started me off on a great path. I returned home feeling great, but I knew my heat acclimatisation would not last me until later on in the year, so I needed more heat closer to race day. Luckily I have godparents in Tenerife up at Vilaflor, so they kindly said we could rent their holiday home so I could train. Perfect! I slotted into every day life. Trained in the morning, at lunch then evening time.
The beauty of where we were was that we actually got altitude training as well as the heat. Working out where we were staying ultimately made me a fitter person. We’d then travel down to ride and run in the heat, and boy was it hot. I was watching my Garmin track my acclimitastion process and I 100% could feel a difference from our first hot workout, to our last. I’d cracked it.
Nutrition and planning for the worst
I was so concerned about dehydrating and not eating enough for this race, that I did back up options wherever possible. In IRONMAN races you get special needs bags alongside your bike and run bag. In each of these I’d put a frozen water bottle (would thaw out by the time I got to it), nutrition and salt tablets. I might not need them, but ultimately had have dropped something like at IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, I would know that I had back ups in the future.
Train for your environment
One of the biggest things I can tell you about training for any race, do your research and then train for your race environment. Getting over heated is one of the worst feelings ever. Trust me. If like me, you’re from the UK or a more chilly location and you pick to do a big race somewhere notoriously toasty, spend some time training somewhere warm. Get your body used to it and plan your hydration accordingly.
*Post in collaboration with Very