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Intelligent Triathlon Talk, Issue #22-, Maximise Performance In The Heat
July 07, 2015

Intelligent Triathlon Talk

July 2015, Issue No 22

Welcome to Intelligent Triathlon Talk.

In this issue:

  • Maximise Your Race Performance In The Heat
  • Training Tip: Muscular Endurance Session
  • Athlete Results
  • Meet two more ITT athletes
  • Be Coached By Us

Maximise Your Race Performance In The Heat

Mrs Intellitri (Rhona) was at the World Conference on Heat Stress and Exercise Performance at the French Institute of Sport (INSEP) in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

We will be putting some detailed information about training and racing in the heat on the website soon, so follow us on Facebook or Twitter to find out when it is available.

Training in the heat can even have benefits for racing in normal/cool conditions, so we will include information about how to maximize these benefits, and some novel ways of getting these adaptations even if you can’t train somewhere hot.

But for now, here are some quick top tips for if you are racing in the heat.

Remember if your race is fairly short in duration (around an hour), you probably don’t need to worry too much unless it is extremely hot and humid, you are not very fit, or you have a condition which would affect your ability to cope in the heat (eg diabetes).

Also, some medications (eg Ritalin) can over-ride your brain’s signals that your body is overheating, allowing you to push yourself too far. If in doubt, take extra precautions in the heat.

If you are doing a half or full Ironman in hot conditions, keeping yourself cool will be key to success, and you should aim to use as many methods to do this as possible.


It is really important to start the race fully hydrated. It is inevitable that you will finish the race dehydrated to a certain extent, and this isn’t necessarily a problem. But start dehydrated and you’re on the back foot.

So the day(s) before the race, make sure you are drinking plenty; always have a water bottle to hand. It is also worth eating some salty foods, as this will encourage you to drink.

During the race there are two approaches to cooling:

1) Fooling your brain into thinking your body is being cooled, so allowing you to push yourself a bit harder – ie changing your perception of the heat.

2) Actually cooling yourself – ie changing your physiological response to the heat.

During The Race

Changing your perception of exercise in the heat

There have been a couple of studies showing that rinsing your mouth out with menthol (every ten minutes) helps reduce perception of effort in the heat, allowing people to push for longer.

How you would actually do this in a race is another matter, but if you really struggle in the heat, even the occasional rinse of your mouth will probably help you feel cooler, regroup and carry on.

Cooling your face and neck has a similar effect – whilst it has a minimal effect on your actual physiology, again it can reduce your perception of effort, allowing you to push on that bit longer/harder.

Changing your physiological response to the heat

During exercise, delay or avoid getting too hot by any of the following methods:
  • Wear white on a sunny day to reflect the heat – and consider long sleeves in a long race. Also moisten these with cool water when you can as this will aid cooling.
  • Consider using a Floe bottle ( to drink an ice slushie – this has been shown to be more effective at cooling than a cold drink.

    Cold drinks are good to a certain extent as you are likely to drink more of them than a warm drink and so have less risk of dehydration, but when it arrives in your stomach it results in your body thinking it is cooler than it actually is, and reducing blood flow to the skin for sweating. So the end result is you actually cool less. Ice slushies don’t have this effect, due to some complicated law of thermal physics.

  • Alcohol cools – no, don’t drink it, soak some clothing in it! In practice, a Swiss product called Energicer, which are wrist bands which you soak in an alcohol-based liquid, have been shown anecdotally to have a positive cooling effect.
  • Paracetamol reduces perception of effort and also core, skin and total body temperature – as you’ll know if you’ve ever had a fever. We’re not advocating you to load up, and in practice there is not a great deal of research into this area, probably due to the ethical issues around such research. But again if you really struggle in the heat, taking one or two paracetamol before a race could help.
  • Hand cooling has been shown to be effective, with one Ironman athlete seeing a reduction in heart rate by 8b/min by putting ice in latex gloves whilst running. You could also put ice down the front of your race suit (like ITT coached Adam did in Ironman Melbourne earlier this year - see photo).
  • Pacing – this is probably one of the most key things you can do. Don’t set off too fast, and stick to an even, manageable pace. Once you go into the ‘red zone’ you will struggle to get your core temperature back down unless you slow considerably.

    The Ironman athlete presenting at the conference was working with a sports scientist who found that running at 14km/hr his core temperature remained stable. At 14.5km/hr his core temperature started to rise rapidly. So there’s not a lot in it!

Other Tips

  • Exercise in the heat has a higher energy cost, and an increased reliance on carbohydrate use. So make sure you take enough energy on board, before and during the race.
  • Hydration: there are more incidences of people over hydrating than under hydrating in endurance events. Unless you expect to dehydrate by more than 3% body weight in a short event, drink to thirst during the race rather than trying to drink a set amount at set time intervals. In a longer event (eg Ironman) you will need to plan your hydration strategy and stick to it.

    Add extra sodium to your drink to counteract what is lost in sweat – the saltier the sweater you are, the more salt you need to add (a combination of sodium citrate and table salt is ideal).

  • Practice your hydration and nutrition strategy in the heat if you can, as well as any of the above cooling methods you might use on race day.

What We Recommend In Practice

Use as many of the above tips as you think are practical/useful, particularly if you struggle in the heat and particularly if you are doing a long race. We would suggest the key ones are:

  • Start the race hydrated (but not over-hydrated – be aware of how you’re feeling and drink to thirst the day/night before, but on race day itself, just do what you would normally do).
  • Cool yourself during the race by throwing water over your face/neck (take care to avoid getting your feet wet due to the potential of blisters)
  • Carry ice in your hands/suit when practical
  • Get your pacing right.

Muscular Endurance Session

During the season it is very easy to get caught up in the high intensity nature of racing, however one of the most beneficial sessions on the bike is the race pace endurance effort. Depending upon the length of race you do this can still be a very high intensity effort (Sprint racers) but spending time at race pace is important to keep in touch with what it feels like, and to keep the aerobic endurance in place.

For standard distance and sprint this may look like 30-40 minutes at just over race intensity, or a build through that duration to just over race intensity.

For 70.3 and middle distance this can be 60-120 minutes at around race effort.

For Ironman generally we wouldn't go over 180minutes very often as it’s a high load session that takes some recovering from.

It's also worth using these sessions to practice race nutrition.

How much carbohydrate/fluid are you aiming for?

How are you getting it in?

Well this is the time to practice. In some cases it might even be worth slightly over-consuming to get your gut used to having to deal with this much carbohydrate, especially half Ironman and up.

How are you going to take it?

Gels, solids, mix, fluid etc. all need to be practiced and refined on a regular basis. And with these sessions in your programme on a regular basis you have the opportunity.

Below is a screen shot of one of Kim’s sessions prior to IM 70.3 Norway in which we tested out a new nutrition strategy which saw her take on more carbs than previously, and building intensity to see where the comfort zone was. Average power and Normalized power were within 6w of her race in Norway, although her time was nearly 10min faster (better roads). We did something similar twice in the 6 weeks before the race, one of which was another race, that had a lower priority, but was an ideal testing ground.

For those not regularly undertaking races of the distance they want to be competing in (I.e. Ironman and 70.3) we tend to do this one day and then the following day look at a similar principle in the run, ensuring there is sufficient time before the big race (minimum 2 weeks) to recover. There is a very strong training effect from these sessions as many of our coached athletes will testify.

Athlete Results

June and July have seen most of our athletes racing. Some notable results are:

  • Eloise Du Luart: 1st Age grouper overall IM 70.3 Luxembourg
  • Kim Morrison: 1St Age grouper overall IM 70.3 Norway
  • Cat Jameson: 4th Challenge Salou
  • Cat Jameson: 3rd Challenge Denmark
  • Cat Jameson: 1st Castle Series Cholmondeley Standard distance
  • Matt Dewis: 3rd Castle Series Cholmondeley - half Ironman distance
  • Mark Allport: achieved his target in IM 70.3 Staffs

Meet Our Athletes

This time we introduce you to two of the younger athletes we coach.

Will Kirk

Name: Will Kirk
Age: 21
Hometown: Loughborough

Triathlon Background:
I started Triathlon in late 2008 having watched it for the first time on TV during the Beijing Olympics.

Before this I played Rugby but was looking around for a sport which would suit me better having had a season as team benchwarmer!

It took me a couple of years to become competitive, but I made it onto the East Midlands Regional Academy squad during the 2011 season and started taking part in national level drafting races.

I have continued to race in the British Triathlon Super Series since then and over the next few seasons I am aiming to move up the rankings in these races as well as to become competitive at European Cup level. In 2013 I qualified for the GB Age Group team for the ITU World Championships in London where I finished 9th in the 15-19 sprint race.

It was a fantastic experience and in 2014 I raced again in Edmonton, finishing 4th in the 20-24 category in both the Sprint and Aquathlon. It’s safe to say that after finishing 4th twice I would definitely like to go back and win this race.

The Age Group World Championships in 2016 are definitely on my radar depending on my progression on the elite side of the sport!

I have recently finished my History degree at Cambridge University. For the first part of 2015 with final exams approaching Triathlon has taken a back seat but I am now back in full training and I am looking forward to starting the MSc Sport Management course at Loughborough University from September 2015.

This will hopefully give me the opportunity to train in Loughborough consistently this year and will also help me to achieve my aims in triathlon over the next couple of years.

Being coached by Mark Pearce at Intelligent Triathlon Training:
I started working with Mark in November 2014 and hopefully in races over the next couple of months this will begin to show real results as I am able to commit more time to training.

Mark has been pretty patient while I have had to focus on my degree this year but I am now hugely benefiting from his approach and the attention to detail in each session.

It is a great feeling to have the peace of mind that every session in my programme will add up to optimise my performance on race day meaning that I can get to the start line confident and having done the work to be successful by the finish!

Eloise Du Luart

After taking up triathlon in my first year of University after a running injury had left me cross training (attempting to swim and bike) for over 6 months, I soon realised it was the sport for me due to the hard training, the long hours and the dedication required. Not to mention the perfect time consuming distraction from my studies.

But coming from a mainly running and England lacrosse background triathlon definitely was a new challenge I wanted to master and conquer. Following some success in the sport over the last two and a half years I decided to give training full-time a go after my finals (May 2015) in lieu of becoming a tax accountant!

My main aim in the sport is to have long career by being able to race competitively at a high level on the elite international circuit whilst staying injury free and strong.

Due to my strengths playing to the longer distances I do believe that following a few years to build strength I will be able to be competitive on the middle-long distance pro scene.

This is one of the reasons I decided to ask Mark to coach me as I know his expertise and knowledge within the sport could help me make the step up from being a student athlete to a professional triathlete.

I have only been coached fully by Mark for just over a month, but prior to this I went on two camps and he coached me solely in swimming for two months. His attention to detail is impressive. Mark understands when to push you in training and when not to, to ensure come race day everything falls into place.

Mark also takes a much more long-term view to development which is paramount to success and consistency (injury free) especially important over the longer distant events/training.

Outside the swim, bike, run world I enjoy cooking, laughing with friends and generally being a “normal” 22 year old girl – as best as I can be!


Our group of athletes is growing steadily but we still have a limited number of spaces to be coached by Mark.

One of the things Mark has shown he is able to do is take what he does when coaching elite triathletes, and use the principles of this to enable a more effective training programme for athletes with a limited amount of time to train.

Indeed one of our athletes, Adam Williams, told Mark that he is popular with his wife, having saved Adam hours in the saddle (and hence more time for his wife and two kids), yet also improved his race time!

If you want an experienced coach, with a detailed understanding of the science behind triathlon and the expertise to tailor your training specific to your needs and lifestyle, please Contact Us.

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You can find out more about this book here: Achilles ebook

That's all for this edition.

Good luck with the up-coming race season!

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with all our news.

If you like this e-zine, please forward it to fellow triathletes who you think might be interested. If a friend did forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting this page. By doing so you'll also receive a copy of our free triathlon training planner.

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact us.

See you next time!

Rhona & Mark

© 2015, Intelligent Triathlon Training, published by Rhona Pearce. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.

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