Congrats Julia and Romain! Not only for buckling down and tackling a practice race, but for starting a great discussion. This is one of the better threads we’ve had in a while, and I hope everyone will read and contribute.
I’ve always had a hard time with nutrition on the bike in the heat – I tend not to “feel” hungry when it’s 90+ degrees out, so it’s a bit of a chore to remember to eat along the way. I was thrilled to find that my new-ish Garmin bicycle computer has a handy auto-reminder to eat (and to hydrate) that beeps at set periods (mine is set for 30 min). I can’t say I’m perfect at complying with the reminder, but it has kept me from plugging along for 90 min before thinking about eating something!
As for dealing with heat and humidity, I was reminded this past weekend just how much heat + dew point = high heart rate, especially on the run. I’ve had two less-than-stellar long distance races in the heat where my pace/will completely fell to pieces in the run. In part, both were tied to less-than-ideal nutrition and hydration on the bike, but a huge part of it was understanding the impact of heat on heart rate and running pace.
So, this weekend, I started my long Saturday run reasonably early, but you’ll all remember that temps were up in the 80s quite quickly with high humidity. For some reason, I decided to actually comply with my heart rate limits this time (one benefit of not racing is the chance to experiment with doing smart things!). I quickly discovered that hills that I usually trot up in the spring and winter at 135-140 bpm by the top were now hills that I’d hit 135 in just a few meters from the bottom. In fact, I found myself walking or jogging really slowly up the hills as the temps also climbed in order to keep my HR at a reasonable level. By the end of the day, I was not finishing my fastest run ever, but I felt strong and steady paced throughout, probably finished faster than if I’d ignored my HR, and (amazingly) wasn’t feeling crushed on Sunday. I know my heat/humidity run pace will go up a bit as I continue to acclimate in the coming weeks, but until then, I’m going to remember that it takes time to adapt, and heat/humidity (actually, dew point!) WILL make a huge difference that we need to account for in long races. (in other words, adjust pace accordingly!)
FWIW, I’ve also given in to carrying all my H2O for my runs these days instead of braving the water fountains, so I purchased a Nathan VaporKrar running vest. For Saturday, I filled both of the 20 oz bottles + half a hydration bladder, and consumed it all by the end of 15 miles. For those of you taking on longer distances in the heat (and who are unwilling to do little loops by your car or house to pick up a bottle of hydration), a hydration vest takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s proven worth it already for me. I can’t offer comparisons between vests, but if I get around to it over the weekend, I’ll post a “review” of my VaporKrar for those interested.