Rerelease: How To Race Well in the Heat, a Few ‘Tricks’ To Stay Cool with Paul Laursen, PhD

June 3, 2022


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Enjoy this special re-release of a show that aired during the lead up to the 2016 Ironman World Championships!

Paul Laursen, PhD, is back already to discuss how to race well in the heat and avoid detrimental heat stress especially at a race like the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Paul is an adjunct professor at Auckland University, reseracher and has published more than 100 refereed manuscripts in moderate-to-high impact exercise and sports science journals, and his work has been cited more than 3,000 times. He’s very involved in helping athletes have success at races like Kona, with some pros using his strategies this year.

  • Heat paralysis in racing and Jonny Brownlee in Cozumel
    • Normally we think of this happening mostly in events like IM, but at the recent WTS GF in Cozumel we saw that this is not always the case: Jonny Brownlee
    • What went wrong for Jonny from a physiological standpoint?
    • Heat paralysis
    • Intensity is the greatest source of heat (not hydration status)
    • Afferent heat feedback
    • Is this the world’s best example of overcoming central governor?
    • On Alistar carrying him to finish
  • Preparing for Hot Events
    • Heat shock proteins
    • Preparation in training helps to mitigate heat stress on race day – get hot! What to do before the race in training, the week of, etc.
    • How much “heat training” is appropriate, i.e. overdressing or working out in a hot room, before it reaches point of diminishing return
    • Using the sauna, and should you drink while in the sauna or avoid rehydrating for further beneficial adaptations?
    • Enhanced sweat response when trained for hot conditions
  • Hydration During Hot Events
    • Is it really safe to recommend we drink to thirst and assume we’ll execute correctly?
    • Diluting sodium concentrations by #1 over-drinking + #2 loss of sodium in sweat to varying degree may lead to hyponatremia. Overdrinking (not sodium loss) is the most likely cause. How about those who lose lots of sodium and do a race like Kona, increased risk?
    • Max rate of fluid absorption is 400-800 ml per hour, best not to exceed this
    • Drinking 1L per hour is overhydrating and risky!
    • Tim Noakes’ Waterlogged
    • Drink to thirst makes sense, but does that work for all? What about when our brains are “mush” during a race?
    • Mention of Alan Couzens blog on hyponatremia
    • Practice “drinking to thirst” in training, so you know how to stick to it and know your needs in racing
    • Is knowing sweat rate “overrated”?
    • Turns out, some dehydration ain’t so bad, i.e. 2-3% may be perfectly safe and ok
    • We don’t need to keep the system in perfect balance when we’re racing!
    • Can we adapt to mild dehydration?
    • What qualifies as under-drinking to a point where hypohydrated state is a risk? i.e. at what point does it put us at risk for heat illness?
  • On Fluid Temperature
    • Why this is arguably more important than hydration, the research that shows how fluid temp matters, etc.
    • Floe Bottle – a way to have an ice slushy, which is better at cooling than ice water. use for pre-cooling and during. Some pros will be using in Kona
      • Research shows: 500 ml of an ice slushy 30min prior to exercise leads to performance benefits up to 20% increase
  • Other Heat Topics
    • Why cramping is not about fluids and electrolytes, and what it IS about
    • Cramping due to sodium loss is a myth
    • Cramp Killers podcast mention
    • What makes Kona unique & how to handle these conditions, such as crazy winds on bike and higher energy cost
    • Other factors affecting endurance performance in the heat
    • Are there supplements we can take or avoid to alleviate heat stress? (Thinking more so as a way to “calm” gut)
    • Glutamine, arginine, BCAAs
    • NO NSAIDS (why to avoid)


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