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Tough Takes Triathlon

Sue Teoh: Top Strategies to Beat the Heat in triathlon

Sue Teoh on run

One of the biggest challenges triathletes will be facing on race day is the environment. With the current weather pattern with heat waves, you need to have a well planned strategy to manage the heat!

Here are some pointers to help you out:

Pre-race week

Keep hydration levels up everyday. It’s important to maintain optimal hydration levels days before your race not just on race day itself.

  • Sip on fluids throughout the day
  • No coffee
  • No alcohol
  • Top up fluids after your workouts with recovery drink mix.
  • Coconut water is better than isotonic drinks
  • Chocolate milk has the right ratio of protein and carbohydrates to help restore your glycogen levels.
  • Juicy fruits like watermelons aids your immune system with vitamins too.
Daniela Ryf running her way towards a win. Photo from Ironman.
Daniela Ryf wears a cap on her run. Photo from Ironman.

Right gears to beat the heat

  • Get a tri-suit which isn’t all black, as black absorbs heat the most.
  • Wear a cap to shade your head and eyes, plus you can hold ice in with the hat!
  • Use a fuel-belt that hold bottles of water on your run
  • Cooling arm sleeves keeps the sun off and retain water some water when you pour water over yourself

During the run leg

If you are doing a half ironman distance, the run leg will be the hottest leg as you’ll be probably running in the mid afternoon sun.

Start early

Reducing your core body temperature for the run starts with the last aid station of the bike.

  • Grab that extra water and douse your head, back and shorts because by the time you hit transition you’ll be just slightly damp still but the run will start with you being a bit cooler.
  • On the run at the first aid station, douse yourself fully again with water, try your best not to get your shoes wet.
  • Put some ice into your hat or sports bra (for women).
  • Wet your cooling sleeves at all aid stations.
  • Be conservative with your pace.
  • Adjust your running pace according to the weather. It is going to be hot, so adjust your run pace slightly slower.
  • Be more conservative at start of the run to avoid getting over-heated too early.

Sue Teoh on run

When you are running slower, you can make the most out of it by getting in more fluids and fuel. Focus on being as smooth as possible on race day to eliminate any spiking in your heart rate.

Monitor yourself and how you are managing the heat and be adaptable with your target pacing. You might have had some target race pace which you’ve worked out during your training but on race day, the situation may change due to external factors like the weather, so you’ll have to adapt accordingly.

Have a great race!

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More about the author

Sue Teoh is an internationally certified personal trainer and triathlon coach, accomplished athlete excelling in competitive swimming. She is currently part of Malaysia’s National Triathlon team. Through coaching, she passionately helps people of all ages achieve their fitness and lifestyle goals.

Follow Sue Teoh, Fitness Trainer on Facebook here.