Ask Coach Jas: Summer Heat Edition

Ask Coach Jas: Summer Heat Edition

Whether you’re melting into the Toronto pavement or practicing your dock-to-muskoka-chair transition at the cottage, the answers to these summer triathlon questions will turn up the heat on your training.

Hi Coach Jas,

I’ve been fitting in my training runs during my lunch break at work, but in the midday sun, I feel like I’m overheating. Any suggestions for keeping cool in the summer heat?

-Sweaty In Scarborough

Hi Sweaty,

While it’s definitely nicer to run amongst the early morning dew or late evening sunset, sometimes it’s actually beneficial to plan your runs midday. 

What kind of masochist am I to suggest that? 

Well, if your sprint tri starts at 9:30 am, with a 17 minute swim, 50 minute bike and 4 minutes in transitions, it’s now past 11:00 am and you’re kicking it on the hot pavement.  You’ll be glad that you’ve experienced this before and have, to some degree, acclimatized yourself. 

Now, to your question — you can try wrapping a cold towel around your neck and tucking it in your shirt or just a good old fashioned dumping of water on your head.  It’s amazing how your brain will make the connection between feeling the cold on your skin and translate that as an indicator that you’re going to be ok — not to shut down. 

Clothing also plays a major role; make sure you have a good quality material that drys quickly and allows airflow. Bright colours will help too, of course.  Because I’m a bald man I always choose a hat (also quick dry) but for the full-follicled folks a visor may serve you better because you’re allowing that heat to escape. 

Finally and probably most importantly, make sure you’ve got a hydration plan in place (this goes for all times throughout the day, not just on your run).  Keeping your muscles and organs well lubricated transfers heat away from from your core and pushes it out of the pores through sweat.  Even on short runs in the summer heat, you can benefit from sipping water or a sports drink every 10-15 minutes.  After your run, think about replenishing with another litre and a half within the next couple hours.

Hi Coach Jas,

I signed up for a race at the end of the summer, but it turns out I’m supposed to be dropping my kid off at camp on that same day. Should I drop out of the race? Send my kid to camp on a bus? Help!

-Dad Duties Are Calling and I Must Go (Or Must I?)

Hi Dad Duties,

First of all, the good news is there’s always another race so don’t be stressin’.  I always tell athletes that if they have to miss a workout, training day or even an event for a good reason, then it’s OK. (It’s the wishy washy reasons you have to question—like, “I just got a manicure and don’t want to get my fingers wet.”)

In this case, what can be more important than your family? I know working hard all summer may seem like a waste if you don’t get to put your performance to the test, but I encourage athletes to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

I have been coaching one woman now for the past 3 years and she doesn’t even race — just trains all the time!  Yes it’s hard to keep progressing her without a work-back date in mind, but we set up periodic time trials and other tests to keep measuring her successes. 

In your case, you’ll be better set-up to start your base training next season knowing that you’re carrying your fitness forward from this year. Perhaps measuring another goal for yourself like knowing that you made it to race day feeling primed and injury free is a good way to look at it — that’s a victory in lots of people’s books. 

And you never know, maybe you can convince your family to take a bonus holiday somewhere warm this winter and add a destination race to your itinerary.

Hi Coach Jas,

I trained really hard all year for this race season, and I’ve been doing pretty well, but I’m starting to get tired. How can I keep up my pace (and my race times) for the rest of the season?

-My Times Are a Changing

Hey Times,

I have several questions for you about how you are training and what methods you’re using to measure your effort.  For example, do you train using heart rate or just by perceived exertion? 

Sometimes when you think you’re going slowly, like you should on your long slow durations, the numbers on your monitor may tell you you’re doing the opposite.  Yes there are other factors that can effect HR, but generally you should have a good idea of what your body is doing during activity. 

The reason this is so important is that you can then know when you should be planning more recovery.  When hearing what some athletes do in training I’m sometimes shocked.  Really your “race simulation” efforts should be kept to a minimum, or at least in control and at the appropriate times.  If you’re going out there every time and putting the pedal to the metal it’s no surprise that you’re burning out.  Recovery is key to progression and perhaps you have peaked too early. 

Other factors that come into play include how you’re fuelling your body pre- and post-workout.  Your fatigue may be a result of insufficient calories or poor hydration. 

I’m glad you’ve taken the first step and reached out to me with these questions.  If it’s too late now, next season I may suggest working with a coach to help design a plan specifically for you that progresses your efforts while incorporating the right balance of rest.

-Coach Jas

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