Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hot Racing and Nutrition

by Sue Aquila

I find running a business when everything is going well is easy. People like being in the flow and are happy to be a part of a finely tuned machine. The true test of business ownership is what do you do when everything goes wrong.

At one of my businesses, we once had a major piece of equipment fail and it was potentially a catastrophic failure. The prognosis was not good. Suggestions included shutting down our operations for a few days and potential replacement of the equipment.

I have learned through the years that when work issues become critical, instead of speeding up, I slow down. People have great ideas but hitting pause and planning the solution becomes a critical part of our ability to transcend obstacles.

I apply the same principles to racing when it is freaking hot. As in “surface of the sun” hot. Here is what I have learned from successfully racing in some of the hotest events on the long course triathlon circuit (IM Louisville, Galveston 70.3, IM Texas and the infamous 2012 Muncie not quite 70.3):

  • Stop checking the weather every hour. Have an idea about race/training conditions and then let it go. Remember, this is an elective sport. If you are at high risk for medical issues, bail. Family first.

  • Train in the heat. Two weeks out, take the opportunity to do some easy spins or easy runs when it is really hot. Hydrate to thirst and just take your time to allow your body to start the adaptation process.

  • Have a race plan in place for tough conditions. I generally like moderated pace goals with some hard heart rate caps. I find the worse the conditions, the more important it is to track heart rate. Is your heart rate rising in the race? Hydrate. Falling? Take in a gel.

  • Plan your nutrition three days out. Hydrate well and eat healthy the first two days. The day before the race, I focus on easily digestible carbs with no fiber. I limit my fruit to bananas and no other veggies. I drink a lot before a hot race but very little of it is plain water (high electrolyte drinks). I am not fond of my pre-race diet, but it works.

  • Dial back on your race nutrition plan. Before the start at Muncie last year, I consumed two 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade. Almost double my normal pre-race fluid consumption. It was hot and humid very early and I knew the water temp was at least 87 degrees. We do sweat in water! My on bike nutrition was approximately 200 calories of a high electrolyte solution for 30 miles while drinking to thirst. My run nutrition was mostly sips of Coke. My stomach stayed clear and I finished strong.

We all face racing hot. Practice, planning and execution are the keys to successful racing and avoiding the medical tent. Understanding your hydration and your nutrition are the critical components to finishing strong.


Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50 pound weight loss and continues as a multiple Kona qualifier. In 2013, she was named the Overall Ironman All World Athlete Champion in her age group and in 2014 won her age group at Ironman Texas. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
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