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Hot Weather Long-Distance Triathlon Racing - How to Fuel/Hydrate

"Drink as much as you can and take lots of salt tabs!"

This is what I've been reading a lot of lately on social media as it relates to the advice that triathletes are receiving in route to their upcoming hot long distance race. 

Racing in the heat is extremely taxing on the body. The biggest consequences include heat stress/exhaustion/stroke and dehydration. Anytime the weather is above 86-degrees F, there will be some type of stress to your cardiovascular system. For the athlete with a hot weather race on the schedule, you must be smart, flexible, attentive and safe when exercising in the heat. Times will be slow(er) than normal and you can't chase metrics. Your primary goal is racing smart and doing the little things well. It probably won't be your fastest race and on paper, the race results may not showcase your current level of fitness but in such extreme conditions, your only goal is to reach the finish line without compromising your health.

Most athletes will overhydrate before and during a hot weather race. There will be many haphazard nutrition "plans" that involve the excessive consumption of salt pills, excessive consumption of sport drinks and lots and lots of water. Because you will be physiologically limited in the heat, there a limit as to how much sodium, fluid and carbohydrates your body can digest and absorb. You can't replace everything that is lost in sweat (and metabolic heat). 

There are several approaching triathlon races where the weather is predicted to be in the mid to upper 90's. That's hotter than hot when you are racing for 70.3 or 140.6 miles. To be honest, these conditions are not safe for the human body and racing in such brutal conditions poses a significant risk to health. While hot conditions are sure to compromise the health of the body, there are ways to mitigate the stress response to the heat and to safely reach the finish line. By understanding the body response when exercising in hot weather and learning how your fueling and hydration can help you , you will have the necessary tools to fuel and hydrate like a pro.