Training in the heat and humidity can be both physically exhausting and mentally demoralizing. Join TriDot coaches John Mayfield and Jeff Raines for this HOT episode! Learn how you can leverage TriDot’s EnviroNorm® technology to account for changes in temperature, humidity, and elevation during training sessions. Discover techniques for training when the temperature rises, recognize signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and understand the body's physiological response to environmental changes.
TriDot Podcast 0.34:
Keep Your Cool: How to Handle the Heat While Training
Intro:This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.
Andrew: Welcome to the TriDot podcast. This episode is going to be ‘HOT’. Capital ‘HOT’ with a capital H and several exclamation points. So, when you text all your friends and you let them know how amazing this particular episode of the TriDot podcast is, get ready to deploy all of the fire and sunshine emojis your phone can handle. Today we are talking about training in the heat, how to get the most out of your training when the temperatures start to rise and the sweat starts to fall. Joining us for this conversation is coach John Mayfield, a successful Ironman athlete himself, John leads TriDot’s athlete services, ambassador and coaching programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. John, do you ever get the urge to trim down the long blonde hair when we hit the Texas summer heat?
John: Man, I get the urge to do everything I can to deal with the heat. So, I live in Texas, I've been here my whole life and I've yet to find anything that can help with the Texas heat.
Andrew: I found when I had long blonde hair as a teenager, I found it kind of blowing in the wind as you would run like actually was kind of refreshing. So, you could kind of kind of pull that argument for keeping the long blonde hair in the Texas summer heat.
Jeff: Na, he's proud of his man bun.
Andrew: That voice right there was coach Jeff Raines. Jeff has a Master of Science in exercise physiology and was a successful D1 collegiate runner. He's qualified for the Boston Marathon multiple times and has raced over 120 triathlons from competitive sprints to full distance Ironmans. Jeff has been coaching runners and triathletes since 2009. Welcome to the show today, Jeff Raines.
Jeff: Thanks Andrew, we've got some great stuff boiling up for this episode. Unlike John I pretty much keep my head shaved year-round. So, I'm excited to be on this episode because I am someone who easily succumbs to the heat and do all and everything that I can to not overheat out there on the racecourse.
Andrew: Who am I? I am Andrew, the average triathlete voice of the people and the captain of the middle of the pack. Today will get warmed up and then we'll talk about getting the most out of your training when it's just really freaking hot outside. Then we'll cool down with Jeff and John answering an athlete’s question about triathlon coaching. It's gonna be a great show, let's get to it.
Narrator: Time to warm up. Let's get moving.
Andrew: To warm up today, I'm going to ask a Zwift related question. Zwift is obviously a very popular way to train for triathlon indoors and I will offer a very brief apology to folks that use Rouvy or Trainer Road or any of the other popular indoor virtual platforms. Those are totally valid ways to train, but the three of us we're up on Zwift and a lot of triathletes are also on Zwift as well. So, guys when you train on Zwift, you can see the usernames of the athletes on the course around you. Most are pretty normal, some mention their tri club or bike shop they represent and some are just totally unique. So, to kick us off, what is one of the funniest Zwift usernames you have seen riding out?
John: So, first off shout out to all our triathletes. We have several hundred TriDot users that have TriDot in their handle which is just super cool.
Andrew: I love seeing them out there on course. I love like when you can see the different courses that you can choose to ride that day, you can see “Oh there's ten Zwift people in this course and there's five on this course and there's a couple like – “. You can see who's out on each course you can kind of choose who you want to stay away from when you want to ride away.
John: So, one of my favorites and he and I seem to be just like on the same schedule because every time I ride, I see Joe Chew out there. Better known as Chewbacca. So, very cool handle.
Andrew: Jeff Raines, what are some of the funny names you've seen riding out on Zwift courses?
Jeff: I've seen tons of funny ones and there's not any that super-super stick out to me. But I have written a few down in the past few weeks preparing for this funny phoebe reference. But I saw “smelly cat.” I saw “I pee on bike.”
Andrew: I pee on bike? I hope they're not peeing on the bike
Jeff: You know you don't want to ride behind them. “Cough up a Lung” was another one. But a really unique one that I just - you know whether it's John Mayfield or maybe Jeff Booher, kind of our president vice president of the company. I would love to see this written next to their name on Zwift, ‘The Dot father’. For TriDot, the dot father. I refer to Jeff Booher as the dot father regularly.
Andrew: John, what are the odds we can get Jeff Booher on Zwift just to have that username?
Guys I've seen quite a few noteworthy usernames on Zwift but the one I want to mention here today has as much to do with the timing as it does the username itself. So, one recent Saturday morning my wife and I were watching the TV show, Parks and Recreation while we were eating breakfast. Pretty standard, you know Saturday morning stuff for the Hartley's. Well fast forward, okay to just a few hours later. I'm on Zwift doing my TriDot threshold and hold work out and I get passed on course by an R Swanson on Zwift. Now if you're a fan of Parks and Rec like we are, you know that Ron Swanson is one of the best characters in a show with tons of great characters. He's absolutely hilarious and I don't know if the R in R. Swanson on Zwift stands for Ron, I didn't stalk this person to like find out or anything.
They could easily be like a Reggie or Randy or Orion or a Rebecca but having R. Swanson go by me that particular morning on Zwift was perfection. I've found a lot of times especially if I'm Zwifting first thing in the morning, if I haven't put my contacts in you can kind of see on the screen when someone gives you a right on. Right? Nine times out of ten it's somebody from TriDot and it's awesome, it's really motivating. We've talked about that. since there's a couple hundred on Zwift from the TriDot family you get you know 5, 10, 20 ride ons depending on the day how many people are on. So, I'll be Zwifting and if my contacts are out, I don't do this when my contacts are in, and I can see who it is. But when my contacts are off and I get a right on, I can't tell I can't see who the name is and so my default reaction I always kind of point the little finger guns at the screen. So, I'm like in my arrow position all my arrow bars and I'll see a little ride on come on the screen and like without even thinking, it's like a subconscious reaction, my finger goes to the screen almost like yeah almost like an acknowledgment of like “Hey, thanks for the ride on” but they can't see that I did that. I can't see who it was because like my glasses are off when my contacts are in and I see the name, I don't do that as well this little dumb thing that I do.
Narrator: Onto the main set going in three, two, one.
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It doesn't take very long for an athlete to realize that a training session in the heat is a whole different beast from a normal workout. The need to drink goes up as the amount of clothes we want to wear goes down. As this episode is being recorded and posted a large portion of the athletes in our audience are slipping into summertime and will be facing all the challenges that come with training in the heat. For our listeners on the other side of the world, those of you with a warm Christmas and a chilly May, June, July, August, we trust the wisdom you hear today will help you months from now when you find the heat cranking up on your side of the globe. So, guys let's start here-at what temperature should we really expect to see our body's ability to perform normally impacted by the heat?
Jeff: You know, I have always used the rule of 52 degrees and the University of Tulsa has some great research regarding this. They actually did a number of studies but one of them that I really dove into. They used past Olympics results and they reviewed the weather and found that a lot of it depends on the type of exercise you're doing you know endurance versus sprinting and the amount of exertion and duration. So, in that study the University of Tulsa deemed that the ideal temperature is 49 degrees. There's some follow-up studies done and in some other universities –
Andrew: That's for endurance sports, 49 degrees
Jeff: Correct and they deemed that men typically need a couple degrees cooler for ideal performance than women as their body heat tends to increase a little bit higher, a little bit quicker.
Andrew: That makes me think of the ‘Breaking two’ project when Nike was setting out with Eliud Kipchoge to try to go sub two hours in the marathon. In their first attempt they chose the Formula one track in Monza Italy and they chose the time of year where the temperatures with be in those upper 40s, low 50s for that reason. So, that is totally tracking with what they were finding as well. Yeah, I mean it's very interesting in and how they tried to make all the stars align for every millisecond they get on that finish time. Further follow-up studies kind of showed that that sprinters they actually do better in warmer temperatures, whereas distance or endurance athletes do better in cooler temperatures. Men's best times in sprint events on the track were deemed 72 degrees is ideal for man and 73 degrees was quoted as being the ideal temperature for women in sprint events.
Andrew: My best times sitting on the back porch come at 72 degrees. So, I understand that one. It’s a great temperature.
Jeff: I hear you man, that's considered chilly here in Texas. Then just kind of some follow up interesting stuff I want to include here is that you know hotter temperatures obviously can affect performance. But I thought it was interesting to throw this in there that anything under 40 degrees was considered being too cold to run. Where your performance, so we kind of understand that cooler temperatures you tend to do better, but is there a cap? I mean is 32 degrees better than 49 degrees? Is there a cap there and what I kind of understood was that anything under about 40 degrees for endurance running, your body is forced to rely more on carbs for its energy. This can actually drain your energy stores faster and on longer run.
Andrew: That's interesting.
Jeff: So, if it's too cold your energy stores are drained through a little bit quicker and there was a really cool study done in France, where they combined six of the world major marathons and there was a kind of follow-up study. They deemed that cloudy and 44 degrees is the best for kind of like across the world. Whereas the other studies they were just using kind of historic Olympic results. So, it's just interesting it kind of seems like 44 to 49 –
Andrew: It is the ideal range and in in terms of this conversation ,you know obviously we're kind of typically when we think of being affected by weather, we think of wind or heat, right? So, I've never considered the fact that okay you go under 40 degrees, suddenly you're affected in a different way. Suddenly you're affected because your body is burning calories a little bit differently and you're still affected by the weather, it's just not the dehydrating effects of the heat that we're used to having and consider in our workouts. So, if that kind of upper 40s and even in the low 50s is considered the ideal range, what is kind of - as we talk about training in the heat, what is kind of the breaking point on a hotter temperature where we start finding ourselves affected in terms of the heart rate goes up, the ability to hold pace goes down but because it's getting hotter. What's s kind of that temperature that we need to know that oh if it's over 70, if it's over 80, I'm not gonna be able to perform optimally compared to how I'm used to it, does that make sense?
Jeff: Yeah actually, I'm gonna dive a little bit deeper into that. But Jack Daniels, the famous run coach. Don't think too deeply into the name guys, the famous run coach Jack Daniels deems 69 degrees the cap on as hot as you can get without being affected. I'll dive a little bit more into that. But yeah, it seems like 40 and below is the absolute low point in 69 and above is that kind of peak point with 44 to maybe 49 being a sweet spot.
Andrew: So, once the heat becomes a factor, once we get above that 69 degrees threshold, that's when we should see kind of our paces start to change, John what do we want to remind a thinks about in regards to an environment normalization as we head into the hotter months?
John: So, the important things to remember is every TriDot session is prescribed to achieve a very specific purpose. It's a very specific training adaptation that is a piece in the larger puzzle. We achieve those training adaptations by doing time at very specific intensities. So, there are times where we are at higher intensities times, we're at lower intensities and we define those intensities by pace power and we need to adjust those for the environment that we're doing in. Say your easy pace is a 10-minute mile, we don't necessarily want to run that 10-minute mile in any environment.
So, that may be or your easy pace in those ideal conditions that the Jeff was describing. So, as the temperature begins to increase if you maintain that same minute pace, you're now doing a different amount of work. You're doing different a different workout; you're achieving a different amount training stress. You are creating a different recovery demand so now that same ten-minute pace for that same time period is not achieving that same training adaptation. So, we need to adjust that pace so that we still achieve that very specific training adaptation.
Andrew: A ten-minute mile at ninety degrees is putting more stress on your body than a ten-minute mile at sixty degrees.
John: Right and I think that's a great example that people can really connect with and understand is, is yeah, running my easy pace at sixty degrees, whatever your easy pace is not the same as 90 degrees. So, it's different in the amount of work that we do and and then from there everything that the kind of filters down through that. So, we have to make these adjustments to these training intensities so that we are able to execute this very specific training. So, that we can achieve that very specific training adaptation. So, again everything we're doing is looking to maximize our overall gains to prepare us as best we can for race day, while maintaining a healthy balance in remaining injury-free. So, either you're gonna train too hard, you're gonna under recover. So, these added there are these adjustments have to be made according to those environments that were doing these sessions in.
Andrew: This is probably a good unscripted time to give a PSA for all of our athletes out there training with TriDot. Just a reminder as we're heading into these hotter months before you go do that outdoor run or before you go do that outdoor bike workout, go on TriDot, pull up your daily workout, plug in the temperature of what it actually is outside all right that's how you submit the time of day and then try to update what the temperature is outside. Because if TriDot thinks you're doing that workout at 7 a.m. when it's 73 degrees and you go at 5 p.m. and it's 89 degrees, your zones will be different. I've already seen people start bringing that up like “Why do my zones change after the workout?” You didn't tell TriDot what time you were going and that matters.
John: Right, and if you do the same session when it's 73 vs 85 or whatever the case may be, you're doing two different sessions. That session was prescribed to achieve again that very specific purpose. So, you're doing something other than that. It doesn't have to be perfect but we want to make those adjustments because the difference between mid-70s and mid-80s, it's pretty significant.
Andrew: I know the importance of that. Every now and then I forget, right, it happens. You do the work out, you're like “Gosh, I worked a little too hard today and just move on to the next workout”. But as much as you can remember to update that time it's a great thing to do especially in these hotter months.
So, I want to talk a little bit about heat acclimating. There are actual physiological adjustments our body makes over time to build our tolerance. How can we do this without putting ourselves at risk of overheating in workouts along the way?
Jeff: You know, I think this is kind of sort of like the million-dollar question. I think that most people.
Andrew: Apparently, I ask a lot of those on the podcast.
Jeff: Acclimating to your environment is better understood or people maybe first will think of like altitude. But what is unique is that you acclimate to altitude while you sleep. So, it's not you know that you just go up into the mountains and you just train there, your body responds when you sleep
Andrew: I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.
Jeff: But for heat, it's a little unique acclimating to the heat because you have to get out in the environment and train. It's kind of understood that it takes approximately two weeks or at least two weeks so to speak –
Andrew: Of training at a certain temperature.
Jeff: Yes, to train your body to acclimate to extra hot conditions. But you know, it's hard for four key big races to get out there to three weeks before the actual event. But sometimes it can be hard and you know ideally people can't vacation for two to three weeks for a race.
John: So, it's understood that at least the first kind of one to five days, you can initially get some help in that regard. But if you're going to truly get to an event early to somewhat adapt to the heat, you would need at least an initial five days.
Andrew: So, when we're taking that time, what is actually happening like in our bodies that is making us better at withstanding heat?
John: When we race in the heat or train in the heat, there's an increase in our core body temperature and that puts a huge effect on our bodies. But then there's also a dehydration, a sweat loss aspect and it's known that losing two to three percent of your body weight is super detrimental to your performance and not recommended. Five percent, is threatening to your overall health. That can be life-threatening and I think we're going to dive into the different stages of kind of heat exhaustion. But performance is significantly faltered at about three degrees of an elevated core body temperature. So, three degrees of overheating or losing two to three percent of your body weight is where you really start to have some issues.
So, to answer your question, when you spend you know five days, two weeks even acclimating to the heat before a race in that environment, what happens is your body starts to become kind of a better ‘sweater’, so to speak. You will over time start to sweat later into sessions and you will start to actually sweat a little bit less. So, this is kind of weird but your sweat glands can actually fatigue. So, if you're used to training and good you know physiological you know environments and you just go to the heat, your sweat glands fatigue quicker. So, adapting to those hotter environments you will fatigue gradually and if you're smart about introducing those hotter runs slowly over time, you can train those glands to fatigue less. They also over time will distribute this sweat across your body more evenly. Also, over time less sodium inside the sweat will be released and that sodium will stay inside the cell and the cell can become more efficient at maintaining kind of the fluid retention, instead of just kind of dumping it all out. That will help dehydration.
I will say that that if you are going to get to an event or an area that you're gonna race or you know you want to try to heat acclimate, start with lower intensity runs. So, your quality sessions, keep those inside. Those really high quality, high intense efforts really elevate the heart rate, really elevate the core body temperature. So, being new to hot environments or the two-week period of here acclimating, start with fifty to sixty minutes easier more endurance type sessions. Use those the first five days in the two-week period and then gradually introduce the more intense sessions when you are training outside.
Andrew: So, guys this is probably a more important question here but it should be as simple enough one for you guys to answer. What are some of the signs of overheating that we should be aware of and at what point should we kind of shut down the workout, if we're noticing these symptoms?
Jeff: I think we can kind of categorize this into three levels of severity as far as you know just overheating in general. So, first of all you know when we work out and maybe it's in a hotter environment, maybe our core body temperature is starting to elevate just slightly, very very initially. But at first when you work out and especially as you start to overheat you will see your heart rate start to increase a little bit. That is your body's attempt to circulate blood through your body to cool it down, kind of like your radiator in your car, it flushes that water through the motor to keep that engine temperature down. But then what happens is your body will start to kind of send blood to not necessarily the extremities but to actually to the organ which is your skin...
Andrew: To your epidermis.
Jeff: Your epidermis is showing Andrew. So, anyways –
Andrew: Easily the most immature joke that's been made the podcast.
Jeff: Yeah, so our bodies will try to send the blood to our skin to the surface to cool it down and utilize convection to our advantage. Now that blood though is in our extremities it's also a kind of away from our core, from our heart, it's away from our materials, our working muscle and so –
Andrew: So, the temperatures rise, our heart is working harder to pump that blood, heart rates going up –
Jeff: But it's working harder to cool your body but not enhance your performance. So, the blood is now towards the skin and not in the working muscle. We need that blood in the working muscle because that blood is how oxygen fuel is delivered to the muscles. So, now there's less blood in the muscle, the working muscle and it can hinder performance. So, that would be kind of your just initial you know what happens in exercise and when you start to slightly overheat. Then cramps well you know can twinge and you can kind of feel that. You know you might have some leg cramping first, maybe a little bit in your stomach. You start to have excess salt loss. Maybe some cotton mouth, dry mouth, the sensation to want to drink.
That kind of middle tier level is what is known as heat exhaustion. That would be next, heavier sweating you might start to have kind of cold clammy skin, a little bit of nausea, maybe a little bit of vomiting. You're not able to withhold that nutrition maybe in long course, your body kind of rejects that, doesn't utilize it as well. Maybe a little bit of dizziness, a headache, a little bit. If you're you know out on course, you're taking a break and you have to - you do use the restroom you may notice darker colored urine. Those are all triggers that you really should probably halt and reevaluate where you're at, what you're doing and the intensity level. If you try to push through that you can kind of take it to two level three so to speak. Which is deemed heatstroke. Which is very, very serious. What happens is it’s kind of a lack of oxygen to the brain is the main thing and the body starts to shut down. But your body temperature rising over 104 is considered you know absolute, this is heatstroke. It's not you know a confused heat exhaustion. 104, really red hot dry skin. It's not as clammy, it's dry but it's super red. You will have a kind of a rapid yet weaker pulse. You may be confused, it could even elicit seizures, some unconsciousness.
Andrew: Would we even as athletes be able to continue and be moving on course, hypothetically if we were approaching stage 3 or would we know? Because we would just shut down.
Jeff: Typically, you're gonna hit heatstroke more so like on the run than you would the bike just because heart rates tend to be a little bit higher on the run, you're later into the race. But heatstroke, it was probably pretty rare on the bike. But running you're at that point and I think there's a point at which you know you're pushing past heat exhaustion, you know you're getting tired, you know you’re way overheating. But maybe you're close to the end of the race or maybe you just want to ride it out and push as hard as you can this is your ‘A’ race and you fight through that but there is a point I think once you're at severe heatstroke, that you don't know you're there.
John: I think Jeff has alluded to this, often times it's relatively rare to see especially that third level in training. It's possible, it's something to be aware of especially on the long days if you're training several hours in the heat it's certainly a possibility. But most often we're gonna see this on the race course specifically because we're out there for longer periods of time, pushing the body to perhaps limits we haven't seen in training. Yeah, it definitely does, you have a diminished mental capacity in that in that scenario.
So, this is actually something we need to be watching up for one another and be aware of these signs and keep an eye out for those on the course especially at Ironman, especially in those hot Ironmans. But definitely the 70.3 and short course races as well. I was in a race years ago, it was a Olympic Distance race and there was a guy that actually died on course from heat related illness. So, it can happen at any distance. So, it's something we just need to be aware of and we need to watch out for one another because yeah once you hit that point, the chances are you probably won't realize in how bad off you are.
Andrew: So, when we're talking about those training sessions where we're trying to increase our capacity to withstand the heat. We're trying to kind of purposely put ourselves in the heat a little bit before race day. So, that our body gets better at sweating, gets better at carrying oxygen to the epidermis to sweat and keep more of the blood flow going to the operating muscles. As we're trying to improve those capacities before race day in our training are those stage two symptoms that you're talking about, is that when we kind of need to back off because we're kind of putting ourselves out there too much? Or is there a certain point where - okay kind of what's the flex point that we should be looking out for on “Hey, if you're out there on a session and you're seeing this this and this you should shut it down” versus those symptoms just being normal if you to kind of get better being at the heat. Does that make sense as a question?
John: Yeah, so I think it's definitely, you're obviously going to experience things like sweating and even a little bit of discomfort because it's hot, your body is working harder to dissipate that that heat. Your body has to maintain homeostasis. So, it's working - it's doing all the work that you're doing plus it's working to maintain homeostasis. So, there's a lot going on. But as soon as you start to experience those symptoms that the Jeff mentioned, that's when it's time to back it off. It's not time to be a hero. That's not necessarily part of the heat acclamations process or heat training, you don't need to push yourself to the point of where you're dizzy or nauseous or anything like that.
That's your body telling you, we're doing too much time to get off and it is very serious and once you experience it once, you're more prone to it in the future. So, you're really setting yourself up for failure if you push yourself to that point. Because you're not gonna get better in the future you're actually gonna get worse, you're gonna experience these heat related illness symptoms sooner and at perhaps a lower heat index. So, it's actually kind of counterproductive to even push yourself to that point.
Andrew: So, you need to spend time in the heat but you shouldn't spend so much time in the heat and push yourself in the heat that - it's not pushing yourself in the heat that gets you better in the heat, it’s just spending some time in the heat. Now another thing I want to touch on, is there's actually different kinds of heat. You know there's kind of your soggy humid heat, John you're in Houston you get that. I grew up in Florida, I get that.
When you walk out of the Orlando Airport into the Florida evening after landing on an evening flight, you feel these sunlight conditions of just being outside and a soggy humid heat. There's also your kind of dry just oppressive you know 100 degrees, 105 degrees kind of dry heat and then there's just everything in between. So, how does the humidity of our environment affect how we handle heat management?
John: So, if there's one thing I know it's its humidity. I've lived in almost every day of my life in the humid environment and humidity poses a bit of a challenge even then. Because our body relies primarily as Jeff described earlier on that - your body dissipates heat by sending blood to the surface of the skin where that heat can then dissipate through convection. So, the sweat is on your skin, this sweat in theory evaporates and that's how your body dissipates that heat. But when the air is already moist, you're gonna have a lower rate of that sweat evaporation. At a certain point for me it's common to wake up in the morning when the temperatures are low for me to be in eighty, eighty-five plus percent humidity. So, it's very difficult for sweat to evaporate when you're in an already extremely humid environment. So, this sweating mechanism doesn't work as efficiently when the sweat doesn't evaporate. So, now that poses the challenge of dissipating heat in a in a humid environment.
Really what we need to do in those cases are resort to some other methods and this is where things like even just cold water, ice keeping the skin dry, removing that sweat because that in itself when the sweat doesn't evaporate, now you have warm sweat that is staying on the surface of the skin which further hinders that that convection. So, it makes it even more difficult.
Andrew: So, you want to tell off more often we want to kind of maybe if you're in a training environment you can change what shirt you're wearing a little more often. You know anything to stay dry.
John: Yeah, a lot of the apparel and those different kinds of things certainly come into play as far as that goes. So, even like again when I'm out there running, even now we're not even in the midst of summer yet but a one-hour session, I'm drenched from head to toe. So, I always prefer a singlet for my run simply because that's that much less soaking wet clothing that's gonna be sticking to my body. It's amazing just the difference in between a singlet and a short-sleeved shirt.
Andrew: Plus, you want to show off the guns in a singlet.
Jeff: Suns out, guns out John. I could argue that that humidity is more severe than drier climates, altitude or just heat without the humidity. Because like John said, you sweat more but you cool less in humidity. But another end of the spectrum would actually be think of like altitude or even just sea level but super dry climates. A lot of people pray for that drier climate. But what is really even scary is that in drier climates that a lot of people don't realize they're dehydrated. Because their sweat is evaporating just as quickly as it –
Andrew: So, they don't think they're sweating.
Jeff: They don't think they're sweating yeah but the convection is drying it and maybe you're staying cooler, which is great. You're staying much cooler than you would in humid environments but you could still be dehydrating yourself. So, in humid environments you know you're sweating a lot, so hopefully you're drinking.
Andrew: So, it's like every environment has some sort of gotcha, you gotta look out ,every you know, the humid environment has the - well you're not sweating as efficiently. You can't get rid of that sweat to cool yourself down and then so maybe we want to go to a hotter drier climate. Well the hotter drier climate, you're not as reminded to drink because you don't feel like you're sweating as much. So, it's like every environment has a gotcha, you got to be on the lookout for and racing in those conditions. Training in Arizona versus training in humid Houston, you just kind of have to know what the gotcha is for your environment. Is that kind of a good way to think about it?
Jeff: Yes, and you know working with the coach, knowing the course, knowing where you train and how that environment is different from race day and practicing all those things are just tons of aspects of the sport that fitness gets you so far. But these technical aspects of the sport are what play a much bigger difference for most and especially in long course.
John: If those things aren't taken into consideration, if those aren't part of your plan like I've said all that fitness in the world, all really is for naught if you go in extremely fit but you don't have a plan to deal with these external environmental factors, all that fitness is no good if you're you know on the side of the road having heat cramps or heat exhaustion or anything like that. Or even just the diminished performance, it doesn't have to go to the extreme of even heat-related illness. But if you if you don't compensate, your performance is going to be underwhelming.
Andrew: So, are there ever times, where it just makes more sense to say it's just too hot, you're not gonna have an effective workout, let's move the workout inside.
John: Well, I call that May through November in Texas. It can go both ways. So, for me and for a lot of people it's the reality of triathlon season. It is hot, it's humid. This is the sport that we love and it's outdoors and it's in the summertime and you know it's part of the sport. I much enjoy training in those cooler temperatures but you know the reality is about half the year, it's relatively warm to quite hot and quite humid. So, it's kind of a reality of it and you still can produce high-quality sessions that's as we mentioned before it's important to adjust the intensity level so that the training is achieving the purpose that is desired. But then there's also a diminished return at a certain point where if you are beginning to experience some of those heat-related illness symptoms that we mentioned before, obviously we don't want to do that. So, it's going to be different for different individuals. Your older athletes are going to have a higher propensity for these things, higher weight athletes need to be particularly careful in this. So, just kind of know who you are, know what your risk factors are, your risk level and accommodate accordingly. So, obviously we want to keep everybody healthy and everybody well.
So, you know adjust as you can, mitigate the factors as you can through different things. But you know, it’s a reality of the sport and often times we're racing in the heat. So, there is both some of those things that Jeff mentioned before where you need to be acclimated to the heat but there's also somewhat of a grit factor of if you want to race well in the middle of summer, you have to be able to race well in the heat. There is a learning process to that of going and being able to be uncomfortable, learn what it is to run hot and get your best performance even in those conditions.
Andrew: We are kind of gearing this towards “Hey, it's super super hot. How do we stay cool, how do we combat the heat?”. But there are tons and tons of athletes that that train all almost all year round in cooler temperatures but their race is then hot. So, what are things that that they can do to help acclimate their everyday cold weather. So, you know for example at home it's always hot here for me. So, I'll bike indoors but maybe do my run off the bike outside. So, that way I'm not spending hours outside solely in the heat and just things like that. I don't want to have heat exhaustion every day of my training. So, there are all sorts of cool like experiments and even studies and recommendations to heat acclimate before you travel to that environment.
I think one of our athletes from New York, that that he and I, you know message each other a little bit about training and racing, and he was going to come down from New York and do Ironman Texas and I was gonna do Ironman Texas, you know training forward from Dallas in just four hours north.
Well for both of us regardless of what where we're coming from, you know you're training for this this spring A race all through the winter, you know when it's chilly. So, none of us were really going to be truly ready for the heat on race day. So, whether you're an athlete you know in a colder climate, where it's that way your rounds or even if you're in the south and you're coming from a time where it's cooler but you're still trying to get ready for that hot weather race. Exactly which you are getting at. What are the ways to kind of do that?
Jeff: There are tricks, elite level athletes will actually have certain key sessions and even cycles where they might add three to five percent to their FTP in sessions. Just so they're creating maybe a half a degree higher elevated core body temperature for a workout or maybe they are pushing slightly higher watt levels just teaching their body to be more comfortable holding a slightly elevated heart rate. Now that's not recommended for most, those are more elite athletes. But there are tricks where some science now is even saying to even just get in a sauna for five minutes after a workout.
You know start off with something as simple as that. Do your normal workout, maybe it's an indoor you know a virtual session and then if you have access to a sauna just sit in there afterwards. But then some people take it to an extreme where they may turn the heat up in their pain cave or something like that, so they're getting used to that sweat rate and then they're tracking their sweat loss at different temperatures.
Andrew: I've seen pros getting ready for Kona. I've seen them put like heaters, you know they'll get their bike trainer indoors in like a bathroom or something. That's like a smaller space and turn a heater on and they'll do that on their run up to Kona.
Jeff: From what I understand, you know it's you're gonna get a better benefit out of gradually doing that for it for longer endurance sessions but start off with shorter sessions of doing that. So, you have a two-hour bike ride, maybe only the first 40 minutes of it. You'll creep up with just the temperature of the room two degrees. So, stepping-stone you know work your way into it.
Andrew: Don't shock your system.
Jeff: Don't just go do seven workouts in seven days in a sauna, high-quality sessions.
Andrew: So, we have podcast episode 30 all about electrolyte balance and hydration. So, I don't want to go too deep into that here. But talk to me about how many ounces or liters of fluid we need to be taking in on hot days.
John: So, there are lots of general guidelines that can give you a great start as to how much fluid you should be taking in. It is going to be different as the temperatures increase but like everything else, we want to make sure it's individualized and specific to each athlete and to their needs. So, we've mentioned before different people have different sweat rates. So, you're gonna have a different loss of fluid rate. So, you need to have a different rate of fluid intake to replace that. So, probably the best thing to do is just do a sweat test and really dial in what is your individual need, how much hydration, how much electrolytes do you need to be specific.
Because we can throw out guidelines, you know give or take 20 ounces per hour or whatever the case may be. But really when in the brass tacks of it, it's gonna be different for everybody. So, the important thing is finding what works for each individual athlete.
Andrew: Yes, maybe even go back to podcast episode 30 and listen to the whole explanation from Dr. Austin instead of trying to have us covered here in about two minutes.
So, now there are handheld bottles, there's hydration backpacks, there's waist packs you know that you can slip a couple different, you know, hydration bottles into. Do you guys have like a recommended way for carrying water on the run in particular? So, on the bike you know we kind of have ways to carry hydration. But on the run training when it gets really hot, what's the best way John to maybe stay hydrated?
John: Again, it comes back to personal preference. As you mentioned there are a lot of different ways to do it. Personally, I can't carry anything. It drives me crazy to have anything in my hands while I'm running. I'm not one for the packs either. So, I do a lot of my sessions at a track which makes it easy. One, there's a water fountain at the track that I’m running. So, if you ever look at my map and there's a little like deviation from the track, yeah I'm going over and hitting the water fountain.
Andrew: I thought that was a porta potty trip, that's what that is.
John: That’s a little further away.
Jeff: From me, if you see that deviation, I'm using the restroom behind me the visiting team bleachers. there’re some woods back there no one can see you.
John: Yeah, that happens too. It's one of those things it's important to do and like anything find what works for you, have a plan, stick to it. Once you have it dialed in, so yeah just whatever's convenient, whatever is easy, whatever allows you to be efficient in it. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. If it's not easy, if it's not automatic, you're not gonna do it as well. It is very important as we've established to do. So, just find what works for you, find what comes easy and allows you to get in the hydration and nutrition that you need.
Jeff: Yeah, now I'll add a little bit to that. I I'm also not a fan of holding things you know a lot of the new heart rate monitor try and some of those kinds of smart watches out there, will show you if you have a right or left imbalance. You know you might be 52% right leg, 48% left. Do you really have a hip drop or you know or was it a slanted road that you were on or were you carrying a 1/2 pound bottle of water in your hand and is it affecting your gait? So, the run coach, the run nerd in me –
Andrew: You don't want to mess up the data.
John: I don't want to mess up the data you know and or I don't want to give myself an injury. So, typically you don't need water for workouts you know 45 to 60 minutes. But if it is very hot you do need to have that out there and we should be drinking approximately every 15 minutes at least sipping. But I like to time my workouts for my courses where I might have a 60-minute run but I'll go 15 minutes out, 15 minutes back. So, I'm back in my driveway, I can get a drink and then I go repeat that course. Or just pick courses, where there are water fountains stuff like that and for the majority of your season, let's just say arguably 60 to 70 percent of your season we in TriDot stay in that developmental phase where we focus on the fast before far and we're doing shorter sessions.
So, for the majority of the season you know it's not a super super struggle or there at least isn't a super super need to carry water on your person. Now as you start getting later on in the season, we start adding that volume. You do have to be strategic in your bike routes. Where are those gas stations? When are you gonna stop? Are you gonna do loops instead of long out and backs just so you can do those refuelings if you're not going to carry enough on person.
Andrew: I feel like it's a little easier to stay hydrated on the bike to some extent. You're generating your own wind and you carry multiple bottles of water with you but what are maybe some practical tips that you would want to say to athletes about staying hydrated on the bike during the summer months?
John: So, you're right. There is a more so of an ambient cooling on the bike because you are in that give or take 20 mile an hour wind at any given point. So, that's going to help the efficiency of removing that heat from your body. So, at the same time though that can also often not give you the reality or the realization that you are getting as hot as you are.
Andrew: Kind of what Jeff was talking about with dry climates.
John: Exactly, same kind of thing. Your perception is off, you don't necessarily notice the amount of sweat that you're losing. So, it is important to be cognizant to be aware and I will say I am terrible at this. I can go out on a three-hour ride and have a plan to drink X and I'll come back and I'll have drink in like half of that. I'm just really bad at this. It's something that I have to be very intentional with. I did two Ironman races last year and I got behind on the bike on my first race and I paid for it on the run. So, for the six weeks in between those races, like my job is to drink.
That's all I told myself on race days when I'm racing out in the desert, my job is to drink. What works for me or really helps is setting a timer. So, I have a specific timer on my bike computer. It's every 15 minutes and I'm drinking in between but that goes off every 15 minutes and I know that I'm going to take - I'm specifically going to drink every 15 minutes and it even says, it just pops up and it says drink. So, I know every 15 minutes I'm gonna get that alert. So, I'm doing my best to drink regularly in between. But I'm getting at least those four good ones and it's easy kind of for me at least early on and by then as the day wanders –
Andrew: Your scenery changes, your people watching the cyclists.
John: Yeah, you're starting to hurt a little more. So, for me especially on the back half of the ride. Oftentimes I'm right on target, right on time through the first half and then the second half was kind of where I tend to fall behind. So, having that alert really helps me kind of stay in the game. So, that's been what works for me.
Jeff: So, staying hydrated on the bike doesn't just mean the intake that you that you're putting in your mouth. To stay hydrated is retaining fluid. So, John's talking about replacing fluid loss, but how do we keep fluid in? So, there's some other tricks that that we can do. You know one is just simply staying wet. I might squirt a few squirts in my mouth but the rest goes chest neck, back, wrists. You dissipate the most heat out of your wrists and neck area and the top of your head.
Andrew: That I did know going into this podcast. I feel so validated there. I did know that.
Jeff: Yeah and so what a lot of people don't do is they don't stay wet on the bike. You want to stay wet absolutely as much as you can. That way your sweat isn't having to make you wet. Put sun covers on your arms or your keep your kit wet for that, you know, immediate convection aspect. So, staying wet as much as you can, you know there are arm warmers but there are also sun covers which actually can help dissipate the heat out. But you got to keep them wet, so a lot of people fail to do that. Or they that let them slide down and cover up the wrists and they're actually not letting that heat dissipate as well. So, little tricks like that can also help you stay hydrated so to speak on the bike.
Andrew: What we wear can greatly contribute to our heat management and be part of our cooling protocol as I always hear John put it. Some folks like to wear kind of a bare minimum and work those tan lines you know like John getting out there and his little singlet to show off his guns. Some folks like to stay covered up like what you're talking about Jeff, in trying to keep the sun off your skin. Trying to keep some of those moisture wicking materials on a lot of your skin. What should we consider when making those summer workout attire decisions?
John: For us as endurance athletes we spend hours and hours outdoors often in the summertime. So, for us sun damage and specifically sun cancer is a major risk. So, that is something we all need to be very cognizant of and very aware of. Especially these athletes that have been in the sport a long time. A lot of those guys are have learned the hard way and are really preaching to the younger crowd of really pay attention. So, that's something I'm, you know, blonde hair, fair skin. I burn super easy. So, I do wear my singlets for those early morning pre-dawn sessions, but man yeah, the long rides where I'm gonna be out there all day, I put on a ton of clothes. So. I'm the one that wears a sleeved jersey.
A lot of times I wear the sleeves to cover my arms and I wear sunscreen a lot. So, it's something just specifically I know for me, I burn easy. I know I'm a higher risk for skin cancer. So, that is something we all need to be cognizant of. But yeah so you can dual-purpose, a lot of those things will help protect your skin but it'll also help keep your temperature down as well.
Andrew: So, we've covered a lot of ground here today. So, just to kind of wrap things up what are a few tips that you personally implement in your own training? Is there any kind of low-hanging fruit, last-second tips before we go to the cooldown that you would want to kind of say to our athletes today? And John I'll start with you.
John: So, for me it's about having a plan. I know specifically for me, if I don't train early in the morning, just practically the day gets busy. I have a lower chance that that session is going to get completed. But especially as we get into the true heat of summer it just becomes less and less feasible for me to get out especially during the daytime hours but even after sunset it's still really hot. So, for me it's do I want the heat or don't want the humidity and for me I usually opt for the early morning humidity as opposed to those high nineties temperatures. So, for me, it's have a plan. So, for me, I got to get up early and get those sessions done at or before sunrise.
Jeff: I mean I like to look at the week ahead. What is my schedule like? Where are my key sessions? When am I gonna do them? Just kind of like what you were saying but then inside of that when I know where I'm gonna piece each work out throughout the week and how I'm gonna do it all. Then I even take it a step further and I decide okay, this workout is the crazy hard one or the long one. So, what am I gonna wear for that or am I gonna bring an insulated bottle on the bike so the ice keeps it cold or longer for a long session? So, what gear am I gonna use for each one of those sessions? Am I going to wear a hat or a visor for that run off the bike? Stuff like that and so I will plan out the week I might even need to do laundry so this or that is clean or maybe I want to wear it again a few days later. So, I take it a step further as far as like the gear that I'm gonna use for each workout, what I'm gonna wear kind of like John mentioned earlier like you know even like a sleeveless kit versus the one that goes down to the elbow.
You would think that more coverage would make you hotter but it's actually quite the opposite. If you have the right gear or the right kit, more coverage actually keeps you cooler believe it or not. So, just things like that. So, piecing the week together how I can based on the heat and weather and then the gear used inside of all that.
Narrator: Great set everyone, let's cool down.
Andrew: All right for our cool down today, we have a question from one of our TriDot athletes. We actually on our website at TriDot.com/podcasts, there is a button that says submit feedback. On the submit feedback button you can submit a question; you can let us know a topic or a race that you want to hear more about or you can just connect with a show and let us know what you're thinking. Several of our athletes each and every week take advantage of that and those all go straight to me. One question that came in recently, that was a really good question that I wanted to ask you guys.
It came from one of our athletes named Kenny. Kenny is from the Toronto Canada area and he listened to our episode 18, ‘Triathlon Coaching in the Era of AI’ and had a great question they wanted to ask you guys and it's this: On that episode we talked about if you're looking to get plugged in with a triathlon coach, it's a good idea to maybe have a conversation with a potential coach, to maybe interview a few coaches and kind of get a feel for who might be the best fit for you. Kenny's question was, “What are some of the questions that we should be looking to ask a coach and determining whether or not we might feel like they could be a good fit for us?”
John: So, long term something that we've seen is the key to the coach athlete relationship, is communication. One of the things that athletes love about their coach is that communication. Something we hear where a coach athlete relationship doesn't work out oftentimes revolves around communication. So, communication is key. Communication is very important in that coach athlete relationship. So, I would say gear a lot of the questions around that. So, what is the what is the type of communication that the coach and athlete expect?
Andrew: Like texting, phone calls, Facebook messenger.
John: Yeah, like what works for you? What do you prefer? What do you hate and are those compatible between the coach and athlete? What are the kinds of things you want to communicate about? What is high quality communication for you? What is good feedback? So, it's about having the expectations of that and then making sure that it's a good fit. So, I would say you're setting yourself up for success from the get-go when you ask those questions about communication and make sure that you're gonna be a good match with that coach.
Jeff: I would also encourage athletes to ask coaches what they do to intrinsically motivate each and every one of their athletes individually. Because not every athlete is the same. Some people just want a cheerleader, some people really want to dive into the data. Some people really want to coach you who really understands the technical aspects of the sport. Maybe it's gearing components, tooth count on the big ring versus the small ring in the front. You know do you have a mountain course or a super flat course and you know what type of tooth count and components so to speak even crank arm link you know are really going to cater to you? Are you someone who you know wants a coach just to be there every day to give you an attaboy or are you someone who you know every three to four weeks, you want an updated gait analysis, you know maybe a swim analysis?
Maybe you're gonna be you know doing sprints versus long course and you need multiple bike fits throughout the season. I mean so really find out what is your true individual goal and then how is that particular coach going to intrinsically motivate you to hit those goals and how are they gonna coach you different than maybe somebody else. I've done that many times where I say you know what, I'd love to coach you but I actually know you know these two other coaches that are a better fit. Yeah or maybe at least interview them, so to speak. The athlete can and I should even interview that coach. So, it's just what you need and how is that coach going to help you achieve that.
Andrew: Well that's it for today folks. A big thanks to coaches John Mayfield and Jeff Raines for getting us ready for our next hot weather training session. Shout out to TriTats for partnering with us on today's episode. Head to TriTats.com to get everything you need to show up to your next event, race ready. Enjoying the podcast? Have any questions or topics you want to hear us talk about? Head to TriDot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon. Until then, happy training.
Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today. TriDot, the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.