Heat can crush anybody's race day, but the sweatiest ranks among us are all too familiar. Some people are genetically predisposed to sweat more, but heavier athletes, by height or build, are at a distinct disadvantage with relatively less surface area to dissipate heat compared to smaller competitors. And while pounding water and Gatorade help, the real enemy to fight is the heat itself.
"It's core temperature that ultimately makes you slow down," says Chris McCormack, two-time Ironman World Champion.
The Australian triathlete isn't extraordinarily big, at six-foot, but he considers himself an above-average sweater. That's a tough break for an athlete where all-day Ironmans keep him competing through the hottest part of the day.
Before the 2014 New York City Marathon, Men's Journal spoke with McCormack about how he fights the heat and stays hydrated. McCormack, in off-season mode, was running the race with a disabled veteran from the Wounded Warrior Project with his Under Armour team.
Heat will sap your energy before dehydration, so if you're heating up, get ice and cold water on your skin says McCormack. "Aim to get it on areas with a lot of blood flow." That means a small ice bag under your hat, a cold towel around your neck, holding ice cubes in your hands, and even putting ice down your shorts.
Cover Your Arms
Thin, light-blocking sun sleeves look like cold-weather arm warmers, but they fend off UV-rays while helping to pull moisture up from your skin. "I thought they had to be hotter," says McCormack, "But they keep me cool and as a bonus, I can drop ice in them."
Embrace the Heat
Training indoors with high temperatures works, says McCormack. "Dealing with heat is also about learning to deal with that hot, uncomfortable feeling." If you want to head outdoors, wear warmer clothes that hold heat close to your skin to boost your acclimatization.
Hydrate Your Muscles
Even with heat in check, you still need to keep your fluids up. There are two types of hydrations, says McCormack, plasma-based and muscle-based. Slamming water right before a race loads your blood stream with water and sends you on frequent bathroom trips. "You're not really hydrating," McCormack says.
Instead, go easier on the start-line beverage and start hydrating your muscles two weeks out from an event with electrolytes. "Start taking magnesium, potassium, and sodium while you drink," says McCormack. "Your body will absorb that into the muscles." If you're looking for a hydration mix, we like NUUN, Osmo, and Skratch Labs.