Race Tips

What Can I Do to Get Ready for a Hot Race?

Proper prep to race in the heat can take up to two weeks and is pretty simple.

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Proper prep to race in the heat can take up to two weeks and is pretty simple: You must train in the temperature in which you’ll be racing for about an hour a day so your body learns to stay cool through more efficient sweating and improved blood flow that better dissipates heat.

Since it’s unrealistic to arrive at the race site two weeks early, you must begin at home. If you live somewhere warm, try moving your training sessions to the hottest part of the day if you can, or turn up the heat in your pain cave. You may need to reduce volume and intensity at first as you get used to the heat. You also need to monitor your physiological responses—stay hydrated, or your body will have trouble regulating its temperature because your sweat and heart rate will suffer. If your urine is darker than pale yellow, you’re not hydrating enough. It’s always a good idea to carry plenty of liquid or drop drinks off at various points on your route.

During race week, bring the training back to the cooler part of the day, or put the fan back into your pain cave so you’re rested and hydrated.

And when race day arrives, here’s how to stay cool:

  • Wear a well-ventilated helmet on the bike.
  • Wear a white hat on the run (instead of a visor) so you can put ice inside it.
  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Put ice in your sports bra and down your shorts to lower core temperature.
  • Dump water on your back and torso.
  • Use a chilly towel around your neck and re-wet when needed.
  • Be conservative with your bike pacing and especially the first few miles on the run to ensure you don’t prompt GI issues.

Finally, use common sense. Learn the signs and symptoms at right for heat cramps, syncope, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, then shut it down if necessary.

See the Signs

Heat cramps
Cause: Electrolyte and sodium imbalance
Core temperature: Below 102
Signs/symptoms: Cramps
Treatment: Replace electrolytes and sodium.

Heat syncope
Cause: Lack of blood to the brain due to pooling in the legs immediately after exercise can lead to fainting.
Core temperature: Below 102
Signs/symptoms: Dizziness, tunnel vision
Treatment: Keep moving, stay hydrated.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Cause: Dehydration
Core temperature: 102–104
Signs/symptoms: Headache, fatigue, nausea, weakness, heat sensations
Treatment: Restore electrolytes and fluid. If heat stroke, athlete may need to be immersed in ice water or be given IV fluids.

Jackie Miller is a USAT- and IMU-certified coach based in Sarasota, Fla. She has been coaching for more than 11 years and works with QT2 Systems/OutRival Racing as a coach and educator to incoming coaches.