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Hawaii from Home

The Triathlete Guide To Actually Making Home Like Hawaii

Even if you can’t be on the Big Island next week, we give you the tips and at-home hacks to make your Hawaii From Home Challenge experience (almost) like the real thing.

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The only good news about the world championships being postponed (again) this year is that you don’t have to go through the usual process of FOMO when you can’t be there for real. This year, with the help of Triathlete’s free Hawaii From Home Challenge, you can get in on the action (virtually). If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time to be a part of the challenge that’ll have you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles over the course of seven days from Oct. 4-10.

If you have signed up and are looking to double down on your challenge, we’ve put together our expert guide below on how to make your at-home efforts feel more like you’re on the Big Island. A little imagination, a little elbow grease, and a lot of creativity will help create that Hawaii atmosphere while you push yourself through your own personal event. Be sure to tag us on Instagram and Twitter with your Hawaii From Home DIY setups using #HawaiiFromHome!

Note: Please take these suggestions with a grain of salt, particularly when adding heat to your training/challenge program. The extreme examples, specifically, should also be done with extreme care, your doctor’s permission, and maybe an EMT on standby. Though there’s nothing more Big-Island authentic than ending up in medical care, maybe try to avoid absolute authenticity on this front.

The Conditions

Anne Haug and Sarah Crowley on the course in 2018. Photo: Oliver Baker

Beginner Hack – While you can’t control the weather outside, you can control the weather in your home gym setup. Forecasts for what would have been race week on the Big Island look like mid-80s with uncharacteristically mild winds, but we all know that can change from hour to hour and on different parts of the course. Check the Hawaii weather before you begin each segment of your challenge, and set the heat in your garage to the same temperature—but still be sure to use a fan to prevent overheating! Just like on the island, setting a high heat for your session requires an extreme amount of hydration and electrolyte intake. Prepare to sweat a lot, and check out some tips from those who know what it’s like to push themselves in the heat.

Not looking at doing the HFH challenge indoors? Try to “overdress” for the weather with a heavier-than-normal long-sleeve shirt. Again, just be sure you check out the above tips on how to acclimatize, hydrate, and find ways to cool off.

Extreme Hack – While you could simply wear a jacket and pants while you complete the event, take it step further by rigging your dryer vent to blow on you while you ride and run indoors. Be sure you clean your filter (and probably don’t put anything in your dryer while you run it), but this tactic has been used in the past for those looking to create adaptations to extreme conditions. Do this one at your own risk!

The Swim

Recon Video

The gun goes off in 2018. Photo: Oliver Baker

Beginner Hack – The Kona swim conditions are pretty tough to replicate because they’re ever-changing. Sometimes the currents in the Kailua Bay are strong, sometimes they’re not; sometimes there are rolling waves, sometimes nothing. One thing that never changes is the sheer monotony of an out-and-back course. If you have access to open water (and a smartwatch that’s capable of tracking open-water swimming accurately), map out your own 1.2 miles out and 1.2 miles back along a coastline or large lake if you can. In fact, you can even set up your own DIY buoys, like the ones coach Sara McLarty describes in this guide to going from the pool to open water. Remember, no wetsuits allowed in Hawaii (hopefully you have warm water!), but you can wear a speedsuit.

Extreme Hack – Go old school and enlist some friends with a kayak (or even a friend poolside) to batter you with soft objects during your 2.4-mile swim leg. Remember that hilarious Clif Bar commercial that had guys attacking a swimmer with pugil sticks? That should be you if you truly want to simulate the craziness of a race start.

The Bike

Recon Video

Daniela Ryf races on the Queen K. Photo: Oliver Baker

Beginner Hack – With roughly 2,500 feet of gain over 112 miles, and a pretty substantial climb heading into Hawi, you’ll want to find a bike course with rolling hills and very few actual flat sections. Map out your course on a service like MapMyRide and try to get it close to the course profile. Riding indoors? You can find augmented reality sections of the bike course on Rouvy, a super cool 4K video version from the service Fulgaz, or you can download the .gpx bike course file from a site like MapMyRide and upload it into PerfPro—smart trainer software that adjusts your resistance based on .gpx files. Don’t forget to simulate the aid stations that the real course has roughly every seven miles and the “special needs bag” at approximately mile 62.

Extreme Hack – Sure you could just wait around all week in hopes that it gets super windy where you live, OR you could create your own Queen K crosswind situation at home. Use a heavy-duty drum fan like this one and set your bike up on a set of smart rollers like Elite’s Nero—that’ll not only work like a smart trainer, providing you real-world resistance from a program like the ones listed above, but it’ll also require you to literally lean into your ride to keep you upright on the rollers. For the true race experience, be sure to move the fan to your other side halfway through the ride.

The Run

Recon Video


Sebastian Kienle runs down Ali’i. Photo: Brad Kaminski

Beginner Hack – Again, do your best to replicate the course by using the MapMyRun run course map on your own outdoor course, but of course the elevation is less of a factor on the run than on the ride. Looking to take things a step further while running indoors? There are a few iFit Coach-compatible treadmills on the market right now that offer running routes from Google Maps. NordicTrack and Proform both have models out now. All you have to do (if you have one of these treadmills or access to one) is draw the marathon run route in the iFit app, and the treadmill will not only adjust incline to mimic the course as you go, but it will also show you street view video if available.

Remember if you’re trying to replicate the run course conditions, be sure to turn it up—either indoors with climate control or by donning more clothing—between miles 16 and 19.5. That segment is the notorious Energy Lab section of the course where temperatures often spike and racers struggle. Doing the challenge in pieces? Do a 3.5-mile run with more clothing or during the peak temperatures of the day. Either way, be sure to simulate the aid stations you’d find all over the course with either family/friends supporting you or carry with you in a hydration pack and the presence of a “special needs” bag around mile 19.

Extreme Hack – If you’re doing the HFH challenge right, you won’t need an extreme hack at this point in the game to make things ridiculously tough—you’re already there.