Five Tips From A Sports Scientist Who Ran An Ironman Race in 95⁰F

In a heat wave, Owen Jeffries, a Newcastle University sports physiologist specializing in heat adaptation, completed an Ironman, one of the most rigorous sports events.

In Austria, he finished the race in 12h and 24 minutes at 95⁰F. Athletes were prohibited from wearing wetsuits at a glacial lake because of the hot weather.

Here are five science-tested ways he prepared for extreme heat exercise.

Allow Your Body To Adapt To The Heat

Heat waves require time for the body to adapt, so avoid strenuous exercise. It takes time for the body to sweat. Evaporation of sweat cools the skin, where the heart pumps harder.

Jeffries said the body starts sweating more after a few days. As a preparation, Jeffries trained in his lab’s extreme environmental chamber for up to 90 minutes over ten days.

Jeffries said, citing a study from 2019, “You cannot sustain the same level of physical activity as in a typical climate.”

Stay Hydrated By Weighing Yourself

Jeffries said, “Dehydration as little as 2% can impact exercise performance.”

Dehydration is harmful. Heat causes the body to sweat more to keep cool. As blood volume decreases, the heart pumps harder.

During exercise, Jeffries measured how much sweat he lost using instruments in his lab. Using that figure, he calculated his fluid intake during the 12-hour Ironman.

Maintain A Low Core Temperature

Jeffries says that water dowsing, like Ironman’s mist fountains, can help athletes maintain a lower core temperature.

He said, “Some professional teams have adapted their jerseys with little pockets to insert little ice packs around the body.”

Train Your Stomach For Long Events

Keeping your energy levels high is impossible if the event is extended. Jeffries said eating while exercising can lead to gastrointestinal distress, which heat exacerbates.

It’s possible to prevent this by eating while exercising, said Jeffries. He avoided surprises by training with food he knew would be available at Ironman aid stands.

Understanding Your Body’s Heat Needs Is Essential

Jeffries worked wonders to keep his body in check and follow a nutrition plan.

Jeffries said, “Considering how long the day was, I felt pretty recovered the next day, enough to go for a light jog and a swim.”