Are you planning to race somewhere hot this year, like Ironman Lanzarote, but worried about how to prepare for the heat here in the UK? Andy Bullock explains why your body will have to work harder, and what you can do to prepare…
Heat acclimatisation is a gradual process and can have a significant effect on your performance. The higher the temperature of the air, the harder your body will have to work to produce the same amount of effort.
Or to put it another way, for the same level of performance in a hotter climate, your body will show a higher heart rate, a higher cardiac output, as well as higher skin and core temperatures. Failure to properly deal with the heat means you are more likely to suffer with dehydration, heat cramps and early exhaustion.
While going to hotter climates to train for long periods before the race isn’t always possible, you can simulate your own version of acclimatisation here in the UK. If you’re able to replicate warmer conditions, close to the heat and humidity you might face on race day, then this is a good start.
This could be done by running in a warm gym on a treadmill or using a turbo trainer indoors with the doors and windows closed. Alternatively, you could simply ride outside with additional clothing on, to increase the demands on the body to remove the excess heat.
It’s very important to monitor your fluid use during this type of training. Dehydration can lead to a longer recovery period and, therefore, affect future training sessions. Do this during the lead-up to your race and you could find that you are still tired going into the race when you expected to be as fresh as a daisy.
Evidence appears to be conflicting as to how long the effects of heat acclimatisation last, and whether you need to train in the hottest part of the day leading up to the race.
From experience, I find that most athletes feel fresher, and subsequently perform better, when the last few training sessions are done at cooler but not cold times of day.
For more advice on preparing for long-distance triathlons head to our Training section