Heat Training & Getting Ready for Hot Races by Marilyn and Sue

Underdone is always better than overcooked!  

 All heat training STOPS three days from the race, including on the race site.  Do what you can to execute any pre-race workouts as early as possible.  

Top Tips:

  • There is some evidence that probiotics can be helpful for heat training.   
  • Easy to steady workouts should be done in a small room with a heater.  It’s okay to use a fan on your face.  The goal is to get the temperature in the mid 80's and to feel humid.  If it is a short session, start the heater before the workout.  For longer sessions, start the heater when you start your workout.  
  • Add a pinch of table salt to your sports drinks if you do not take salt tabs.  Drink only electrolyte drinks (because you may require additional fluids, it is okay to drink some low calorie ones like Nuun etc.).  Too many athletes get into trouble in hot races drinking too much water. 
  • Sweat tests can be helpful if you need to check your hydration needs.  My goal is to be fully hydrated on the bike and end up a bit dehydrated on the run.  
  • Any moderate-hard to hard training efforts should be done in your normal training environment.  Do not add heat stress.  
  • If you feel ill, unusual fatigue, etc., stop the workout.
  • There is some evidence that Tylenol can help with heat acclimation.  Please discuss with your MD regarding the risks.  I don't use Tylenol when racing, but I do have friends that find it very helpful when racing hot.  

And what if you don't have a small/hot room?  The newest research that I have used successfully is training at normal temps followed by hot (104 degree) bath.  It is very helpful when preparing for a hot race.  

  • Start with 10 minutes and build daily by 5 minutes to a maximum duration of 45 minutes.  
  • Please be careful and make sure you never do this alone.  Someone should be checking on you etc.  It’s not a great obituary if they list the word "poached" in how you met your untimely demise.  
  • Drink 48 ounces of a low calorie cool electrolyte drink afterwards.  Acclimation includes increasing blood plasma volume.  
  • If you don't have access to a hot bath, you can try a sauna. 

Again, if unusual bouts of fatigue start, I would suggest stopping the protocol.  Make sure you sleep cool each night! 

When you race, drench yourself from the start of the bike until the end of the run.  Always look for the water bottles with condensation in the volunteers hands.  If they lack condensation, the water is the same temp as the environment.  

Be sure you have a little bit of a tan. Seriously!! If you go out there and have not been in the sun at all, you are likely to get a sun burn and have it impact your day. Before IM Malaysia, I went to a tanning bed a few times to be sure I wouldn't have any skin burning issues on race day

Being lean matters when it’s hot.

The type of sunscreen you use race day matters!!! Make sure it BREATHES!!!

Know what type of fuel you can use at race effort when very hot. Many people struggle with nutrition in hot races because they try to use the same nutrition they would in a cooler race. This can often lead to GI distress.

Watch your warm up on race morning. Be ready to go, but avoid getting hot before the race even starts. This is why in Athens and Beijing at the Olympics, the cooling vests were used in a lot of athletes’ warm ups.

Sleep cool!!! Watch that in your day-to-day life, especially during race week, you aren't sweating constantly. Stay cool when you are recovering.

In the days before the race, keep hydration normal. Athletes get carried away with too much water and end up in trouble on race day. Drink normally.

When you are racing, pay attention to HR early on in the day. If watts are dropping, HR is rising and speed is dropping, you need to SLOW DOWN AND COOL OFF!!!


**This information is a collaboration provided by Marilyn Chychota and Sue Aquila.  


TrainingMarilyn Chychota