For most triathletes, training in the heat is brutal. Not only is the heat and humidity physically draining; it’s mentally demoralizing. In fact, as a triathlete in training, you may even be struggling with the mere reality of garnering enough courage to train outside during these few intense months.
However, with the proper planning and the correct mindset, you can master triathlon training in the heat. Here’s how:
Hydrating during your triathlon workout is pointless if you’re starting without the proper amount of liquid to utilize. And hydration to battle severe heat doesn’t start 15 minutes before your workout either. You need to be hydrated many hours or the night before.
You’ll need the time for your body to process the water and for your bladder to empty. But also remember that too much water can be a bad thing, too. It’s best to shoot for 8 to 16 ounces about 2 hours before training, with some juice or an electrolyte mix drink in small doses in between. You’re looking to have pale yellow urine, not completely clear.
With that said, keep in mind that hydrating on pure water in the extreme heat during your triathlon training is not ideal either.
The problem with trying to hydrate solely on plain water is that when you’re low on sodium your body is unable to regulate the amount of water that’s in and around your cells. Therefore, you won’t retain the additional fluids put into your body (causing your cells to swell) and furthermore you’ll be diluting the remaining electrolytes left in your bloodstream.
This is why it’s so important to consume sodium before and during your training. When your blood is frontloaded with the sodium needed for a hot work out day, you’re more equipped to absorb the required fluids when hydrating without diluting the precious remaining electrolytes in your bloodstream as well as the new ones coming in.
This can be done with either the proper sports drink or with salt tablets. As said above, make sure you consume sodium prior to your triathlon training, but also make it a priority to consume even more so during your battle with the heat.
Wake Up Early
Ironically, the hottest part of the day for most of us typically hits right at the time we’re getting off work and need to get our triathlon workouts done before dinner. Go figure.
To combat this problem, as I’m sure you’re probably already dreading, that means becoming an early bird. Think of it this way: it’s better to get out of your comfort zone and hit the run or bike workouts in the cool morning rather than face a near impossible environmental zone after work in the heat.
When the heat is hindering you from actually accomplishing what’s written on the triathlon workout sheet, it is occasionally ok to supplement an otherwise outdoor workout for an indoor one. The reasoning behind this is simple. Accomplishing your workouts at the prescribed intensities is what’s going to make you improve as a triathlete. If you can’t hit your numbers day in and day out due to the heat, then you’re very likely going to regress rather than progress. Therefore, don’t be afraid to throw in an intense bike trainer or treadmill workout while blasting the air conditioning and the radio every once and a while.
On the other hand, training in the heat is still a necessity if that’s what you’re going to encounter on triathlon race day. So, unfortunately, you do need to know how to endure the misery as well as pace yourself appropriately in said conditions.
An incredible feature of the TriDot Triathlon Training plan is its ability to find your location, collect weather data, and output your temperature and humidity environment normalized training intensities. In this case, normalized simply means adjusted based on the relevant data.
7:10 minute-per-mile pace on a comfortable 70-degree day may equate to 7:30 minute-per-mile pace in 95-degree heat with high humidity, once normalized. TriDot is realistic about what you’re capable of in specific conditions. You wouldn’t expect a triathlete to be able to sustain his or her normal threshold pace at 7,000 feet elevation. Likewise, why disregard normalized intensity when training in extreme heat?
TRIDOT TAKEAWAY: Triathlon training in the heat takes discipline and planning. But with the proper sacrifices and strategy you can survive the heat and make progress as an athlete.
TALK WITH TRIDOT: What’s your method for handling the heat while triathlon training? Let us know your tips and tricks.
JARED MILAM is a former professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and former member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 17 years of competitive running experience and 12 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.