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How top pros keep themselves cool on the Big Island.
Managing the Kona heat is a full-time job for the athletes racing at the Ironman World Championship. Not only do they have to acclimate to training in sweltering humidity, but most try to stay out of the elements between workouts so the climate doesn’t wear them down. We asked some of the top pros what they do keep their bodies fresh by staying cool between workouts.
2010 Ironman world champion
There isn’t much out if the ordinary that I do. I like ice baths after super-hard sessions to help recovery and to bring core temp down. I pretty much always have a water bottle with me to make sure I’m well hydrated throughout the day, but that’s about it.
2012 Hawaii Ironman fourth-place finisher
It’s always tough with the air conditioning. Normally I switch it off instantly when I go to United States because I am just not used to it, but now I am sleeping with it on. Not too high, and I switch it off during the day.
The good thing was Vegas (in 2012 when Kienle won his first 70.3 world title) was really perfect for my preparation because it was really hot here. The day before the race and the race morning I used a cooling vest. It’s mainly because when you’re walking around the expo and everything, it was crazy [hot]. I think there it was a good thing. But here’s it’s not really necessary.
I also tried some pre-cooling before Vegas, but I didn’t do it like I planned because there was not enough time in the morning. I wanted to take an ice bath before the race. Not very long, but there is some scientific [research] behind it that it works. I tried it before. That’s something you could do but you have to try it a couple times in training. You have to be comfortable with it, that’s the main thing with all these strategies. Then it’s a good thing, but otherwise just don’t do it.
If it’s a very hot day, I will [use the vest] again the day before the race when you have to stand in the sun for longer during the [bike] check-in. It’s way cooler than Vegas so I think it’s not really necessary and in the morning it’s also very cool.
2011 Ironman Hawaii fourth-place finisher
I don’t use much before [a big workout,] but ice baths afterwards help to cool down quickly. I wish I would knew [how to handle the heat,] then I could race and train better. The heat is tough to conquer.
2011 Ironman Hawaii eight-place finisher
After a workout I like to do an ice bath. Sometimes I’ll [alternate between] a 3-minute ice bath and 3-minute hot shower. Three times for both, and I finish with the ice bath.
I have my personalized electrolytes to [add to] my drinking water at home. American water has very few or no electrolytes. So [this helps me] still drink enough without loosing electrolytes. I keep the air condition switched off all the time to get used to the climate. Four or five days before the race I stay indoors and try to train early or late and try to avoid the heat.
Last year and this year I traveled from Ironman 70.3 Cozumel to Hawaii. Mexico is hotter by far and has about 90% humidity. After 10 days in Mexico, the Hawaiian climate feels quite easy.
2009 Ironman Hawaii fifth-place finisher
I drink continuously during the day, and only very little plain water without electrolytes. Mostly I put a hydration tab or energy drink in my bottles. After a hot workout, I like to drink something very cold in order to also cool down from the inside. It does create some brain freeze sometimes, though:)
2011 Ironman Hawaii ninth-place finisher
To be honest I haven’t found it that hot out here. I wrap a menthol chamois cloth around the neck during runs in the Energy Lab. I’ll use it during the race. I have ice baths after big runs. Obviously use my compression booths. But besides that for cooling I’m a fan of a big icy cold cooling shake.