Lindsay Golich: Heat Acclimatization Strategies Of Tokyo Olympic Athletes

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About this episode:

In this week’s episode, Adam Pulford interviews fellow CTS Coach and exercise physiologist at the Olympic Training Center’s Athletic Performance Lab and High Altitude & Environmental Training Center (HATC), Lindsay Golich. With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics expected to be one of the hottest on record, she discusses what effects in performance athletes may experience, and the strategies they are using to help prepare athletes for the challenging conditions of this year’s Olympics. 

Episode Highlights:

  • Preparing for the Tokyo Olympic Games which is set to be the hottest Olympics on record
  • How heat can affect athletic performance 
  • The protocols Olympic athletes are using to acclimatize to the heat
  • Can a sauna work for heat acclimatization?

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform

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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Adam Pulford (00:01):

–Welcome back or welcome to the train ride podcast. Coach Adam here, your host, and I’ve got a wonderful guest on today’s show. She’s a top physiologists at the us Olympic Paralympic training center, running the hat. See in athlete performance lab. She’s also a long time CTS coach and a great friend. And before all that, she was a professional triathlete herself. So Lindsay college, welcome to the show.

Lindsay Golich (00:24):

Thanks Adam. Yeah, super excited to be here. Um, always fun to see, uh, old faces. Um, yeah. And just be a part of this and share all sorts of good knowledge that we’ve got right now.

Adam Pulford (00:34):

Yeah, absolutely. I do. I do I have that old of a face Lindsey, is that

Lindsay Golich (00:39):

Interesting? Wow. You know,

Lindsay Golich (00:41):

We’ve known each other, gosh, what now? Like 15, 16 years. It’s been a while. It’s it? It has

Adam Pulford (00:47):

Been awhile, but uh, you know, between the pandemic and congratulations on your daughter and your new job and all the things like I actually have not seen you for for several years, so yeah. It’s been crazy. Yeah. Well, I mean, our listeners may have caught some of your wisdom over the past or some of the podcasts that you’ve been on lately, but could you tell us a bit more of your current role at the training center and the athletes you work with?

Lindsay Golich (01:13):

Yeah. So, um, as you mentioned, I work at the Olympic and Paralympic training center in Colorado Springs and we’re located pretty much downtown. We’ve got a great facility we’ve been on COVID quarantine locked down. So unfortunately hasn’t been opened to the public for tours, but hopefully in 2022, or if you’re in the area, come check it out. Lots of great things to see. Um, in Colorado Springs, I have a couple different hats. Um, I run our athlete performance zone, um, which really we, uh, help all athletes just coordinate using of our different facilities, whether it’s our environmental room, just their open area, other equipment, like our alter G or hemoglobin mask testing, different things that we have access to. Um, the athletes that I work really closely with our cycling trap on an, a few watersports like canoe kayak, um, and then a handful of other athletes in some individual events, um, as well. And, uh, those, uh, those programs or the programs that I work directly with the athletes, with their coaches, with their high performance staff and traveling to training sessions, competitions, training camps throughout the world. Um, and then as well just with the training center has got winter sports too, that come through. So I’ve had, uh, my ability to just tap into some of our winter athletes here and there primarily just for testing or just working on altitude, if we’re, you know, if they’re traveling to a higher climate, uh, for training and preparation for competition.

Adam Pulford (02:41):

Yeah. So you, you’re wearing a lot of hats over there, aren’t you? Yeah.

Lindsay Golich (02:45):

Which is great. I mean, it’s fun. It keeps you on your toes. Um, you know, like anything like the human body can only be stimulated in like a few different ways, but it’s the art of it, how we all put it together and, uh, what keeps us all going. And it’s pretty

Adam Pulford (03:00):

Exactly exactly in this. This is exactly why I wanted to get you on the show because, uh, Olympics are coming up in Tokyo is scheduled to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest Olympics on record. So, uh, where’s that going to rack and stack with previous Olympic games, Lindsey for temperature?

Lindsay Golich (03:16):

Yeah. So, I mean, as you said, Tokyo, it is, uh, going to be, or has the potential to be the hottest one that games to date. I mean, even though we’re a year postponed, running a year postponed or didn’t exact year postponement, so it didn’t change the time of year that we’re actually holding the games. Um, when we look back, gosh, probably all the way back to, I don’t know, um, the 1980s, uh, from now all the way covering however many Olympic games that is, there’s only a few that would rival it and that would be Beijing. Uh, summer Olympics, Athens was also pretty close and Atlanta, it was kind of where the top three leading into Tokyo, but Tokyo relative to those were kind of looking anywhere between maybe three to 10 degrees Celsius depending on the location of each event. And the IO, um, did have the ability to relocate a few of the events. So like the marathon and race walk, they actually moved them quite a bit north, um, within the country of Japan. And that will really helped to change the humidity levels and the overall temperature just to moderate some of those extreme environmental conditions that the athletes are going to be facing.

Adam Pulford (04:26):

Gotcha. Gotcha. So you said three, three to 10 degrees higher. What are the absolute temperatures that athletes are going to be competing in?

Lindsay Golich (04:33):

Yeah, you know, if we, when we’re doing a lot of our training and heat assessments, we’re looking at kind of worst case scenario. So on the temperature skill, um, we could see somewhere as high as 45 degrees Celsius in the peak of the day. Now that’s not likely. Um, I know, um, I’ve been there in the past in the summer months in July and August, and haven’t quite gotten that hot, uh, on an absolute temperature, but the real or the field like temperature gets pretty close with the combination of temperature humidity and just the sun and, and different things that are happening. So, um, it’s going to be pretty warm. Uh, the other things with Tokyo because of where it’s located. It doesn’t have these really big shifts in temperature throughout the day. So the sun comes up at four 30, it’s, you know, the land of the rising sun.

Lindsay Golich (05:20):

So the sun is up early and really by 6:00 AM, the temperatures are already quite warm. We hit our peak of the day, pretty similar to, um, here in Colorado, right around 12 to three o’clock. Um, but it takes awhile for the temperatures to cool down at night. So, you know, a lot of the games and the events from team sports to individual sports like cycling and triathlon and running they’re happening, you know, peak heat time of the day. Um, so we’re anticipating standard temperatures, uh, somewhere between like at the very low end, maybe 30 degrees Celsius all the way up to 40 degrees Celsius. Um, and again, that feels like your terms that feels like temperature is going to range somewhere between a hundred to about 115 degrees, like throughout the day during this competition,

Adam Pulford (06:05):

That that is pretty warm. And as I mentioned in the intro, heat is, is a stress and it can’t be overlooked. So, you know, we’re talking a lot about heat, but, uh, just real simple Lindsay, like, uh, what is heat stress and how does it affect human performance?

Lindsay Golich (06:23):

Yeah. So when we talk about stress and strain, really, we have this environmental stress, um, which is really the level of intensity. Um, so, you know, we’re looking at the temperature and humidity, but ultimately how does that place, that strain on the body and that strain of things that we’re looking at, like core temperature and sweat rate and proceed effort, and really that’s what we’re trying to balance. Um, as we go through a heat climatization, um, and also just, uh, once we’re on the ground, trying to figure out like things like proper hydration pre-cooling and during cooling for certain events. Um, and that’s, that’s been our biggest focus. Um, I feel on a committee here for, I would say for the last five years, you know, this already goes back pretty much, we knew the same. We knew Tokyo was happening as you’re getting ready for Rio. Um, but we knew that heat was going to be a big obstacle for a lot of athletes. Um, so yeah, again, you know, we’re just trying to balance everything within training. It’s just tipping scales that we can’t control the temperature and environment, but we can control or prepare physiologically better so we can tolerate those environmental stresses.

Adam Pulford (07:31):

Gotcha. Gotcha. And when you’re talking about those extreme temperatures, that athletes will compete in Tokyo, I mean, your, you gave a presentation to CTS few weeks ago. And one of the numbers I pulled out from there was, I mean, decreased performance can start to occur in around like 86 degrees Fahrenheit or about 30 degrees Celsius. And that’s like a five to 7% decrease.

Lindsay Golich (07:53):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s quite drastic right. When you look at it and you know, the thing with heat is that, um, it’s nothing new. You know, the, the U S has had a huge focus on heat. Um, and you know, when you go back to the literature, when did we start really focusing on heat and it was not specific to athletes, but during war time really that’s when we started looking at, at how heat was in fact impacting negatively, our soldiers were getting on the ground, coming from the us and being dropped into these really hot and humid climate. So a lot of the research that we’ve been going through for the last 50, 60 years, which is quite interesting, and, and over the time we’ve been able to manipulate it towards athletes. And we do know that performance is decreased as temperature rises.

Lindsay Golich (08:37):

And yeah, there’s the obvious areas that dehydration happens or core temperature rises. Um, but we don’t know without doing the proper testing, it’s hard to determine which is a limitation for each person. And, and that’s where I love my job from a physiology perspective is that we know, yes, there’s a, roughly five to 7% decrease in performance for more like time trial type of event. So we’re not going to see a five to 7% decrease, even in a 1500 meter running race. But by the time we get to like a five can 10 K and the marathon, yeah. That’s when we’re going to see potential decreases in performance. So we’re not likely to see world records being broken in the 10 K. Um, and the marathon has type of events in Tokyo, um, because we’re trying to mitigate that heat stress and that strain that’s being placed on the body.

Adam Pulford (09:24):

Gotcha. Gotcha. So those are, you know, events really not going, you know, much more over an hour, but what about like men’s and women’s road races that are going to be anywhere between 3, 6, 7 hours?

Lindsay Golich (09:37):

Yeah. I know that the men’s race road race is crazy, right. I mean, that’s going to be to be like a six plus hour day, it’s going to be pretty epic. Um, and the course is really hard. I mean, the train is going to be beautiful to watch on TV. I mean, it’s amazing where they go through, but, uh, the course is hard. It’s, it’s, it’s out there, you’re exposed. There’s lots of climbing. Um, so, uh, you know, in addition to the heat, just the stress of the course is going to be challenging, but, uh, you know, for that, we’re really trying to prepare the athletes on the ground prior to arriving. So there’s been a lot of heat climatization that the athletes are going through and, and different strategies. Um, there’s not a one size fits all. And part of that is just, we have to figure out what each athlete and program can respond to, and it doesn’t hinder their training or race preparation.

Lindsay Golich (10:23):

Right. So you could, you know, go into that sauna protocol, which maybe we’ll touch base in a little bit of, you know, is a 10 day or seven day or 14 day in a row sort of critical the best for physiological adaptations. Yes. But is that the best for physiological adaptations and with the training stimulus and recovery? Probably not. So be that we’re trying to figure out how to, you know, bounce it off for each athlete, um, on the ground for an event like the road race for the mentorees. Well, we’re gonna do our best with hydration and utilize, uh, you know, hyperhydration type of drinks. So the athletes can start the race carrying a little bit more, uh, plasma volume, a little bit more body fluid that they can reap from, if it, if they get themselves in a deficit fingers crossed that the caravan will be there and that we can really rely heavily on, you know, getting bottles to the athletes throughout the race and, and little packets of ice and different things to keep them cool. Um, so that’s going to be the biggest challenge is that depending on what happens within the race, the splits of the groups and different things of, of being able to manage that, but as a team, we’ve got everything really dialed in, um, team leaders and Jim Miller at USA cycling, you know, this isn’t their first showdown and they know what to do, they know what to expect and, and we’ve got a lot of things covered and, and really dialed in for those races.

Adam Pulford (11:41):

Yeah. Yes, yes. And we’ve had a few of, uh, Jim’s athletes that will be going over to Tokyo on this podcast as well. And kind of talking about some of their, uh, strategies for that. Um, but what you said before, just in terms of human physiology, responding in a few different ways, and then some of the other things that you were talking about is really the strategies that you’re focusing on heat acclimatization, pre pre cooling and hydration. So let’s, let’s start with heat climatization can you tell our listeners like what that means and how you do it, like on a high level?

Lindsay Golich (12:16):

Sure. Yeah. So he had a climatization is ultimately you’re trying to prepare the body physiologically to tolerate the heat more effectively or more efficiently. So what happens is that during this timeline, which we’ve got a short timeline, a short period, which might be just a five day protocol versus a really long long-term protocol, which might be somewhere about two to three weeks, is that we’re, we’re looking to have an increase of sweat rate. So the body flipped sooner and slept more. So that acts as a natural cooling environment. Um, we’re also looking for the body to retain some plasma volume, which is the water retention part of our, of our blood. And then again, that helps us to pull from a little extra fluid during moments of stress or high strain. Um, our Thermo our ability to thermal regulate to just dissipate that heat more effectively, part of that’s a sweat rate, but cooling is just a practice makes perfect in this situation.

Lindsay Golich (13:12):

I don’t feel, I find the, one of the biggest things is just the athlete perception is that your ability to, to tolerate the heat is improved drastically. And a lot of these things happened within just the first five days or five exposures of heat, but they’re not short, they’re pretty short term, so they don’t have long-term lasting benefits. So for something like Tokyo, where even though the men’s road race is a one day event, they’re going to be on the ground for seven days leading into Tokyo. So we can’t just plan for, you know, race day that everything’s going to be good. We actually want to make sure that we’re, uh, climatized before we hit the ground running. So when they get there, we’re not having to deal with travel fatigue, the stress of the Olympics, the exposure to the heat and all these other things is that we’re trying to minimize as much as we can. Um, so we want to try to do all this prior to getting on the ground and not relying on those first, you know, five or seven days that the athletes are there.

Adam Pulford (14:05):

Gotcha. Gotcha. And so when, when we are talking about like the acute responses to, to heat, you’re saying that it takes one to five days and happens pretty quickly, but it can go away pretty quickly too, if you’re not, uh, having exposure in sessions in the heat, right.

Lindsay Golich (14:22):

Yeah, exactly. So there’s been a lot of good research out there. Um, over the last five years, it showed just five exposures of one hour, a day to a heat in, uh, an endurance to sub-threshold type of intensity. We’ll give you a good heat of climatization. So again, the thing is that if we just did five days, and then we go straight to our event, we’re not necessarily going to have the maximum, you know, ability for increasing our sweat rate or plasma volume retention. We’re going to get maybe about 80 to 90% of it. So pretty close, but, you know, as we’re going into the Olympics for athletes have been preparing some of them their entire life for this one moment or the last five years, or even the last two years, um, that we want to make sure that we’ve got it dialed in. And that we’re, again, we’re a hundred percent in, so we’re, we’re looking more at like a 14 to 20 days, uh, protocol. And again, it’s not 14 to 20 days exactly. In a row. So if an athlete is leaving, let’s say July 1st, um, we’ve started things on June 1st. So we’ve given ourselves, you know, a month prior to again, find that balance with heat exposures, um, restraining and recovery and different stimulus to make sure that we’ve got that right balance of, you know, stress and recovery and adaptation.

Adam Pulford (15:32):

Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. And then what are some of the aspects that you’re measuring when you are doing, and we’ll talk about protocols here in just a minute. So listeners can get a little more detail on what we’re talking about here, but, uh, when you are doing a session with an athlete or you’re trying to, uh, influence these parameters to get them more resilient to the heat, so that they’re ready to go ground ground, or on the ground running, um, are you measuring like sweat loss, sodium? Like what are you measuring in your fancy lab over there?

Lindsay Golich (16:07):

Yeah, so, you know, sometimes we pull out all the gadgets and other times it’s, uh, a simple pen and paper. So when we do our initial heat stress assessments, we’ll look at core temperature, how well an athlete. So they’ll actually swallow a small pill. It’s about the size of a multivitamin, um, and that will measure their internal core heat. So we’re looking at how they’re tolerating the heat that heat build up or how quickly or they’re dissipating it. Um, in addition to, you know, drinking cold slurries or putting ice towels over their head, um, how well that acts as a band-aid, so to speak on, you know, eating and maybe a short dip in core temperature and how long it takes to come back to that initial, um, that heat sink that we’re looking for. Um, we’ll measure sweat rates. So some simple things of like pre and post body weight.

Lindsay Golich (16:55):

That’s something that everyone can do. You know, don’t want to feel before training and after training and see how much water loss you’ve lost. Um, in addition to that, where you’re going to measure how much you drink and eat. So all the fluids going in, all the fluids coming out, um, and even nutrition. So one thing that we’ll do with our, our running program is that a lot of athletes have a hard time tolerating, a lot of fluid to take in at once so that we just work on training the gut. So we see how much you can actually drink with each drink. And sometimes it’s a lot less than what an athlete thinks that we might find that they’re only drinking one to two ounces, and we need to get that number up to maybe five or six based upon the temperatures we’re anticipating or the duration of that, of their event.

Lindsay Golich (17:38):

And so you drink your bottle. We weigh the bottle before and after and see what you’ve drank. Um, on each, each sip, we’ll look at heart rate, we’ll look at power. If they’re on a bike or look at power and all the running mechanics, if they’re running perceived effort. So just on that simple scale, six to 20, someone’s pointing out where they’re, where they’re looking and how they’re feeling. Um, and I mean, in any day, we’ll do all of it or some of it, or none of it, sometimes it’s just an athlete needs to go in there and do the training. And we know that it’s creating a stressful environment, but that’s, that’s the goal of the day. Um, the, one of the more important things that we can look at and to confirm that there’s a heat, heat adaptation going on, is it sweat, sodium concentration?

Lindsay Golich (18:20):

So from the beginning, maybe from day one, we’ll put patches on and look at how salty an individual sweat is as well as how much volume of sweat they’re losing over the time of their heat habitation is that we should know that their sweat rate increases. So again, that you’re sweating more, you’re cooling your, your body off more, but that sodium concentration will actually decrease because you’re sweating out a higher volume of water. So that’s another way that we can actually assess, in addition to seeing how your body internally with a quartet core temperature pill is kind of tolerating that heat.

Adam Pulford (18:56):

So if, uh, one of our listeners or, or, um, even myself or whoever is listening to this and they, they want to make sure that they’re, uh, climatized to the heat and they don’t have core temperature pills or, uh, sodium testers or something like this, what would be like one thing that listeners could tune into or hone in on that would indicate that they are, um, adapting to the heat?

Lindsay Golich (19:22):

Yeah. I mean, I think the most simple thing is actually just looking at your perceived effort during a training session. So, you know, when you’re doing heat stress, you’re not going in and you’re not doing these, you will typically, we’re not recommending to do these really high, intense type of intervals. So because of that, we’re doing more Robeck or threshold type of training that we’re actually not going to see a drop-off in power per se. Um, the more you’re well-trained you are, so that’s not a great tool. So you can’t say, oh, I got to my third interval and I finally held it together. Well, that’s hard to know if that’s just a training out of patient or the heat adaptation, um, when you’re doing things that are sub-threshold. So power’s not a great one, but again, perceived effort, just how you feel. Um, heart rate is a tool, but again, there’s a lot of factors that can go into that if you’re not looking at it consistently, so you could be dehydrated prior to starting, and that could really be funky with your numbers.

Lindsay Golich (20:15):

Um, and then just again, I really, the most important thing is, is I would say for a lot of athletes is almost trusting. The process is that this is a tried and true. He, the climatization is nothing new. Again, as I mentioned, we’ve been doing this for many, many years when we do all these fancy gadgets with the core temperatures and the foot sodium concentration. Yes. We’re looking at the marginal gains. We’re looking at that fraction of a percent is a difference in a, in a time trial of getting first versus 10th. Um, but at the same time, trusting the process, and if you’re doing it and incorporating correctly in your training, I can say wholeheartedly that you will have a positive heat adaptation that will occur with them just as little as again, five to seven days of those heat exposures.

Adam Pulford (21:00):

Yeah. I agree with that fully is anticipating that that would be your response. Um, but that’s just, it w when you are a climb Desi, the heat, when you’re tolerating it better, I would say with my athletes, the number one thing that I hear is that I just feel a lot better and they’re able to make, you know, moves in the, in the race or in the group, or, you know, tolerate the pace longer as opposed to having the drop-off, that kind of stuff. So, um, some of these tried and true protocols that we’re talking about, could you walk us through one or two, uh, protocols that you use with your athletes and it could be, um, and I think you mentioned that having like a multi-faceted approach, um, is, is good for this meaning there’s not just one way to get heat, um, to prepare well for it, but what have you done with some of your triathletes?

Lindsay Golich (21:49):

Yeah, so with a lot of the track athletes, and I’m a cyclist, as well as that, I would say it’s really individual. So, um, uh, Dr. Stacy sins, uh, came up with this sauna protocol. Gosh, it’s probably been 10 to 12 years now at this point. Um, and, and again, she had taken it from a hybrid of other other individuals, but really put it out there and publicize it and put some very specific numbers to it and showed what was actually happening. Um, within that protocol, we’re really looking at like a seven to 12 day, um, everyday heat exposure in a sauna situation after an intense training session. So an intense training session could be something on the biker run that’s quite long. Um, uh, so, you know, if we’re looking at our, uh, uh, cycling athletes, it’s definitely something over like a three hour ride, um, or an intense session could be a 90 minute session with really hard, intense intervals or maximum type of efforts.

Lindsay Golich (22:47):

And then we would jump immediately into a sauna. The sauna though, we have to keep in mind, it’s a really short period of time. We’re not really trying to get in there and see how long we can stay in a sauna. We might start with just 10 to 15 minutes and work our way up to 25 minutes. Um, and the sauna has shown really great success, uh, within a training adaptation for the heat. The tricky part is that high risk high reward. So it’s one of the more, most stressful type of heat adaptations that you can do for, uh, training and the stress. I mean, is that just the additional stress that places on the athlete or the body, and that if you’re not controlling for that within your training block or on the back end of your training block, you may really just come out excessively fatigued. So we want to make sure that we’ve done kind of like dry runs of it prior to doing our full two week type of exposure. Um, but we do that with a few athletes, but again, we’ve multiple dry runs of it. So we know how they’re going to respond and recover from that type of stimulus.

Adam Pulford (23:50):

Okay. What temperature are we talking about in the sauna?

Lindsay Golich (23:53):

Yeah, so for the thought of, we really want to see it above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. And so that’s pretty normal. Most saunas get up there pretty, pretty easily. And that’s the difference is that in a steam room, um, most steam rooms get up to about 120 to 140 saunas can get up quite easily to 120 to up to 180 degrees. So, um, that’s just the time. And then holding that environment, the most consistent of fauna allows for that type of, uh, environment to occur.

Adam Pulford (24:22):

So, you know, that there’s going to be some listeners who have a sauna or access to a sauna and they want to try this. What would you recommend to them if they’re like, yeah, I’m going to go for it.

Lindsay Golich (24:32):

Yeah. As I said, it’s kind of like high risk high reward. Right. But that also means high risk that if we don’t do it correctly, you’re, you could really mess things up. So, you know, I’m sure talk about altitude, right? Like living in altitude tent, we’re looking for that 1% gain in a heat adaptation. Yes. We’re talking about a delay in heat exhaustion, basically, and performance, but we’re not actually stopping it. We’re just delaying the start of that happening, but it has a potential still to happen even, even after going through a heat climatization protocol, but hopefully we’re delaying it by minutes, uh, which allows for better decision-making or reaction times and that type of a, an event. But, um, with that, I would say that if you are looking to do it, let’s say you’re getting ready for like a Kona example. And you, and you live in Colorado where it’s hot and dry, but we’re, we’re not nearly as hot and dry or humid as Hawaii that I would say, if you’re getting ready for an event now for you, you’re looking at the calendar and you’ve got three or four months to prepare for it is that I would look at doing maybe a three days period, you know, soon and see how you respond to it and what the fatigue, how that, how that impacts your training.

Lindsay Golich (25:42):

Um, so then you have some feedback again on how you need to adjust your training during that cycle and or immediately after it. Um, and then in another month or month and a half to again, another three or five day period, cause again, you’re, you’re getting more fit as you’re going through it. So I know not everything’s a hundred percent as if you’re going into your final taper. Um, but again, you’re, you’re, you’re hopefully not doing something brand new, something that you’ve never done prior to your, maybe most important race of the season or your whole entire life.

Adam Pulford (26:12):

Yeah. Yup. That’s really good advice. And I, and I really, the reason I bring it up is, um, I probably can’t stress enough if thinking of thinking about the whole stress, the whole bucket of stress that you have going on, training stress, life stress. Now you add in heat stress, and you do need to balance it out. So you don’t over cook yourself because you said high risk, high reward, but you know, that risky component is you come out like way too zoned in like a medium zone. This is what I see from athletes. And they, they can’t put their finger on like why they’re tired all the time. And maybe they perform like pretty good here. It’s like, oh no, I’m fine. But then they like kind of bad performance for a few. And they’re like, what’s going on? So coach Lindsey, like, how do you, how do you balance that with your athlete? Is it initially just be safe and like take training intensity down in volume, moderate as you introduce a heat in or how do you,

Lindsay Golich (27:03):

Yeah, so, um, I would say really as a whole year, you wanted probably decrease the total volume somewhere between 10 to 15% right off the bat. And again, when I look at things I’m always going to take a slightly more conservative approach, um, because when I went ultimately the most important thing for any type of race environment, whether it’s hot, humid environment, high, cold, um, altitude, whatever it might be is to show up as fit as you can be and as healthy as you can be. So when we’re talking about heat and all these other things, we’re looking at the marginal gains, and yes, they’re important, but we gotta make sure that we’re not compromising our overall training. So again, for the training perspective, I would say volume and intensity, I would decrease just right off the top by 15, 10 to 15%. Um, even just for that three-day period, just so you know how you’re gonna respond.

Lindsay Golich (27:54):

Um, and then I, you kind of go through trials of it, then you can figure out maybe how to layer things back in and what’s appropriate and what may not be, um, you know, just an example. We had a lot of our track cyclists just go to Knoxville for cycling nationals and, um, uh, you know, all, all the track athletes they’re getting ready for a four minute race, not a, you know, a three hour race. So that in itself was challenging, but due to COVID, there’s been almost no racing. So we needed just the stress of a race environment, but we’re hoping it’s going to give us a flight, uh, uh, ability just to see how it responds in the heat and everyone’s coming back and it took a lot more out of the athletes and we actually had anticipated, um, even though it wasn’t as hot or humid as it could have been there, um, during, during nationals, but there’s still just an element of just being out there in that environment, you know, doing things after the race of just some Olympic Funday things that it just took its toll.

Lindsay Golich (28:48):

Um, so on the back end, even though we have this perfect plan, you know, for a few days back here in Colorado, we had, we had adjust everything for a few days for some athletes just to kind of get back. So even if you think you’ve got it all dialed in, you know, we’re people, we’re not machines, we’re still going to change or different stresses. So you just have to be adaptable. And I think that’s the most important thing is that if you’re working with a coach, you got to communicate really well with your coach, because that’s what they’re there for. If you’re coaching yourself, don’t be afraid to take something off it’s, it’s better on these, uh, heat stresses and different things to eliminate something, then try to keep adding more and more things to your schedule.

Adam Pulford (29:26):

You took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to say, so for the, all those DIY wires out there, and for those, uh, coached by an athlete, make sure exactly the words that you just said, but just, you know, communication. And like, self-awareness like, if anything just be conservative because he, if not adapt or a climatized to it generally does take way more out of you than you think, no matter how tough you think you are. So

Lindsay Golich (29:48):

For sure. Yeah. And then I know you’re saying there’s, you know, spawn is not the only one. So before we move on to, I just want to, you know, I would say that’s kind of the high risk high reward one, but, um, I think I mentioned earlier that we’re doing kind of a combination of different heat stresses. So we might use things where we’re mimicking the environment. So in Colorado Springs at the training center, we’ve got this amazing room where we can match temperature, altitude, and humidity to really any environment throughout the world. So for Tokyo, we might do a couple just more, um, aerobic or easy spins for cycling or easy run for triathletes or runners in the room at those conditions. Um, maybe might be anywhere between 45 to minutes to 90 minutes long. So nothing really, really intense and nothing really long.

Lindsay Golich (30:35):

Um, if you don’t have access to them like that, and you’re going somewhere it’s hot and humid, you know, pool that could work well, you could probably make something in your house, but if you do make sure you have like a, a weather reader, so you actually know how hot and how humid you are and not just guessing you can get them online for, you know, 40 bucks, it’s a good $40 investment. Um, if you’re going to do something like that in your house, just to make sure that you’re not overdoing it. Um, and then simple things like overdressing, again, these are not groundbreaking concepts, but going out for a ride and kind of middle of the day and wearing long sleeves and hats and gloves, just to stimulate that heat stress or that, um, additional strain on the body, um, is really important. Uh, and getting that adaptation and for athletes, we’re doing all three of those were using faunas environmental rooms and overdressing, or just going out in the heat of the day for certain training sessions. And we found that that is the best more in an applied world rather than just from a research world, is that, that gives us the best ability to maximize on our training and our recovery with optimizing our heat adaptation, getting ready for a performance.

Adam Pulford (31:41):

Yeah. And that makes sense too, because you can’t, I would assume that you could probably get like the plasma volume response that you wanted to out of a passive heat acclimatization protocol using sauna, but from like the mental side of things and the perceived effort, once an athlete, if they’ve never written in, um, heat and humid before, but they did all the sauna and then they’d go into a race environment. They started going, the perceived effort at race pace is going to be ticked up quite a few, as opposed to the people who did their aerobic training and maybe even some race based like in that environment as well. Right.

Lindsay Golich (32:16):

Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, I mean, and again, it’s, and again, the most important thing that we do in our heat stress testing or assessments or evaluations is that it’s really athlete and coach education. So it’s going into an environment and we use all these bells and whistles, so I actually can graph it out and you can visually see, you know, how you’re feeling, um, or for running, you know, when we’re using somebody who’s running power meters is that we can see maybe anywhere between like five to eight minutes within our distance running program, prior to their core temperature hitting their limit. We actually see running mechanics begin to falter and the athletes, um, I just did a heat stress assessment a couple of weeks ago with one of our track athletes. And, and, you know, they were right at 39.4 degrees, internal Celsius, which we know at 39.5 mechanics and everything started to really suffer. And they turned to me and they said, oh, I don’t feel good anymore. Like right at that moment. And I thought, yeah, you’re really dialed in with what’s happening, but now we actually can, I can visually show you what’s actually changing. Um, and then, uh, for a lot of people, they have that aha moment of like, ah, I got it. I can see what’s happening. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (33:25):

Yeah. And that’s, I mean, it’s super valuable for coach and athlete because it’s at the end of the day when they are racing. I mean, you can have all the gadgets and stuff going on, but like, but it’s just the, the continual check in and awareness, uh, can I keep pushing, what can I not? Yeah, that’s right.

Lindsay Golich (33:45):

Yeah, exactly. Or I can, I know I can keep pushing for another one or two Ks in a running race and that’s all I need. Or if I just stay at this pace and run steady, um, when we started the full process, one of my, uh, Fides and presentations, I’d give that give to athletes as an example of the Chicago marathon over the years. Uh, and I can’t remember now without looking at it what year, but there was a year where it was exceptionally hot and you look, they scrapped out the winners in the men’s race of every 5k as they’re going throughout the race and who ended up winning. Well, the guy that won was the guy that ran the most study, or there was a surge somewhere right around 20, 25 came to the race and they increased their 5k split, you know, or they dropped their time by almost like 20 or 30 seconds over that 5k and all the athletes that went with it, none of them, uh, placed in the top three. And the reason for that, it’s not because of form all these guys can run, you know, pretty close to one another, but it was a heat sink that it did it in those conditions that they couldn’t recover from it. Um, so it’s just, like you said, it’s learning that and understanding it, and then having the confidence on race day to execute your plan and not get caught up in, you know, what’s happening all around you.

Adam Pulford (34:58):

Yup. Yup. That’s it? That is it. Well, um, I know we’ve got a lot to talk about still, and I know you mentioned uh pre-cooling and hydration, so let’s, let’s touch on that. And then we can, um, start to wrap this up a little bit, but when you’re talking about pre-cooling, um, what is, what is the goal here in, what are we trying to achieve?

Lindsay Golich (35:19):

Yeah. So pre-cooling we use prior to willing to talk about just competition here? Is that, what are we doing to like drop that core temperature, uh, to moderate that thermal load that we have? Um, so leading into, um, the Tokyo games, uh, Dr. Randy Wilber, who’s one of our senior sport physiologists worked with Nike and we helped to design this new ice cooling, cooling vest it’s out on the market now. Um, and the goal would be that we wear that prior to going out to competition. So if you just watched, uh, us track and field, uh, um, the trials as a woman were coming out for the 10 K a lot of them have these cooling best time. And so really prior to the timing that the vendor was off, we’re just trying to lower core temperature back to a stable level. We don’t actually want it to get too cold, so you can’t respond, but bringing that core temperature right back to that, like 37, 38 degrees Celsius, which is just our, our normal, you know, 97, 98 degree core temperature, um, that we’re feeling.

Lindsay Golich (36:20):

Um, and, and again, what that helps to do is that you’re delaying that, uh, onset or decreasing the initial ramp rate, um, uh, at the beginning of a race. So if the race is going to go out hard, um, really short, you know, from the beginning, whether it’s a running race or cycling race or triathlon, is that we’re helping to just dissipate that heat early on. Um, in addition to cooling beds, there’s a lot of stuff out there to some drinking, like ice slurry, then I slushie drinks, um, and that you have to drink quite a bit for it to be truly impactful. So that’s something that you need to train and practice if you don’t want to try that just out of the blue, um, prior to like a really intense training session or race day. Um, but that has shown that it can help to decrease or delay the onset again, of, uh, a higher core temperature. And going back to what you talked about in the beginning is that when we can moderate our heat with heat climatization or delaying the onset of that at that core temperature where we know performance starts to decline where we’re increasing our odds for success. Right? So again, we’re not necessarily going to stop it, our core temperature from reaching really high, high, extreme levels, but we’re delaying the time that it can get from point a to point B.

Adam Pulford (37:34):

Yup, exactly. And so with those ice fests, I mean, the athlete is warming up right. Doing their warmup protocol. And then just before the event, they slip on an ice Fest or some cooling device and they go up to the, the line, right? Yeah. Yeah. And

Lindsay Golich (37:54):

It’s the same sometimes, like you might do, depending on the length of your race or what you’re doing, you might warm up in the cooling vest, um, or you might put the cooling vests on after your warmup. It kind of just depends on the timeline of what you want to do. One tactic, um, that depending right now watching the tour de France like that you might see prior to like a time trial or other types of races is that there’ll be wearing their cooling vest during a warmup or something like a game ready that actually has a continuous flow of cooling cold water rather than just ice. Um, uh, and again, they’re doing that during a warm up, so they can actually go harder in the warmup without raising the core temperature prior to towing the line. So there’s a couple of different ways to do it, but ultimately it depends on the length of the race, how intense the race also has to be right from the start of how you actually want to your, your different approaches that you want to apply it to.

Adam Pulford (38:46):

Exactly. So I just wanted to also clarify all the people who are now Googling Nike ice Fest, and they, they get a couple and they don’t, they’re like, wait, how do I use this now? Um, it’s pretty, pretty simple. Um, and I would even go a step further and say, you know, warm up, then throw it on to cool down a little bit before, but just like Lindsay said, it’s like, um, like if it is hot, like if you’re setting up your trainer and you’re already sweating, throw it on if you have it right. And just, just delay it just to lay it. Um, cool. I know that, uh, in other races, in, in mountain biking and stuff, and I don’t know if Miller’s gonna, or if this is even legal in the Olympics, but, um, like an ice SOC type of protocol for cooling. Um OnCourse is that going to be, yeah,

Lindsay Golich (39:32):

Yeah, it’ll be used for sure. So you can use, I socks in hand ups, the IOC has allowed some different modalities for this Olympic games and they have in prior games. Um, so they’re allowing hand, hand ups like that, that you can take ice socks and different things, um, at different points during the course. And private part of that is they don’t want an athlete to, you know, obviously having heat heat episode during competition or even after, um, so, but we want to have good racing, right. So we’ve got to find that balance of like pushing the body, the maximum limits, but making sure that we’re being smart and have the right tools,

Adam Pulford (40:05):

Ice cold ice sock is like heaven on a hot day. So yeah, very, very simple, very simple, um, okay. Kind of changing to, uh, hydration and fueling. So clearly this is super important, uh, for an athlete success. We’ve talked about it before on this podcast, but, um, specifically with some of the protocols that we’re talking about here, Lindsay, what’s the goal for the athlete leading up to the race and then during the race. And then if we have time, we can talk about like a post-race and training session.

Lindsay Golich (40:36):

Yeah. And I mean, it’s like everything else, right? It’s like a multi-layered question. So, um, like if you look at the men’s road race and the women’s road race on the, for cycling, they’re both really long is that we’re going to try to get to the start and as well, are you hydrated states? They’re actually going to be the goals, carrying extra hydration going into that event, because we just know that you’re going to be limited by how much you can consume on a course or how much you’re going to be sweating out. It’s going to be a fine line of balancing that. And same thing for the time trial is that, you know, at a time trial, you’re not going to want to carry an extra bottle right. On your bike because that’s additional weight. And there’s a pretty significant climb on the time trial course.

Lindsay Golich (41:15):

So we’re going to make sure that we’ve got, you know, maybe carrying one or two pounds of extra hydration prior to the gun starting off. So we don’t have to rely on that, the weight of the actual bottle on the, on the bike. Um, and then there’s other events where, um, it may not be as much of an issue, um, like triathlon and the relay they’re doing the mix really is for athletes doing a 20 minute race where they tag off to the next person for 20 minutes. Yeah. You go for it. We’re not doing work too worried about having bottles on the course hand ups on the run course. They’re going to be there, take them if the opportunity presents itself. But if not, you got to go for it, you’re racing and that’d be the same thing for like a 5k on the track or a mile at right.

Lindsay Golich (41:54):

You know, there there’s, you just gotta go for it and, and rely on that heat adaptation that you’ve done. Um, but I think it’s a really easy thing. Um, hydration weigh yourself before weigh yourself after training sessions, see what your hydration loss is. Everyone’s very different as your fitness changes, that actually changes too. Um, so you don’t want to just do it once a year, you know, do it a few times, or you’re changing your, your, your training cycles, um, to really get an idea of, you know, how much water loss you’re losing and then, you know, what you need to be replacing in training or, um, even on the backend for recovery.

Adam Pulford (42:31):

So everybody should, you know, do their pre-race perfectly and come, come to the line, topped off, ready to go. And then it just depends based on the specificity duration, how long they’re going in terms of how to fuel throughout the event, right? Yeah,

Lindsay Golich (42:46):

For sure. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you know, hydration, it’s one of the things that it seems so simple. And I don’t even know when I was at CTS. Uh, I remember reading, uh, from a traffic, Chris McCormick, you know, he said one of the things that finally allowed him to like have great success in Kono is that he drank more on the run than he ever had before. It was something so simple. Right. And you think, man, he’s a pro he’s won all these races, he’s done all these things and he can’t get it dialed in and this race. And it’s just simple that he had a drink and almost three bottles more than what he had been doing. And that was a little, it helped him, you know, to have success in that day, in that condition. So I think if you’re constantly finding that you’re not succeeding in these extreme conditions that you need to kind of reevaluate, not just only the training, but what may be your hydration and nutrition plan are, and it could be on the opposite. And maybe when you’re taking in way too much relative to the event, or you’re not enough, but I think it’s something that’s so simple and that we don’t think is always an obstacle, but even at the highest end of con uh, our elite athletes. Um, but we see it all the time and little changes can be quite impactful. So

Adam Pulford (43:53):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the time. And I think it’s one of the most simple things to deploy correctly, but it’s oftentimes just the number one thing that’s overlooked and it’s kind of ridiculous in my opinion. Yeah, exactly. Um, so I do want to ask though, like, if, if there’s an athlete to say it like a marathon or Olympic distance triathlon two hours or less, I mean, are they, there’s going to be a fueling component to that, but are they at all concerned about it, post race, um, uh, replenishment situation, if they just have like one race one day and they’re going for, and are they all at all concerned about like how I feel the next day, or do we get to the Olympics? You do that. And then you’re just like,

Lindsay Golich (44:41):

Yeah. I mean, I think if it’s the Olympics are probably the extreme example of it for a lot of athletes, but even, you know, even all of us, right. You’re preparing for like your one event. Um, and again, I think it’s important what you said, it’s like two hours or less. So if it’s a two hour or less, you can get away with doing some really crazy things, um, that, you know, your hydration and nutrition feeling, as long as you’re doing everything properly prior to the start of that race, you can get away with really poor decisions. Or maybe that’s the intent is to walk away very dehydrated, um, that that can allow for, you know, best world record performances, knowing that you don’t have to back it up the next day, or even in a few days time. I think the biggest thing is that, like now you start thinking like three hours or more, or I think of like, like the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and people aren’t there like 10 hours.

Lindsay Golich (45:30):

Like you, you have to make sound decisions for those types of events because it’s so taxing in itself. So there are some, like, as I mentioned, like the mixed relay 20 minute race, like you’re just going for it there, you know, you, there’s no holding back, but even for a two hour race, so the marathon, a 10 K running race, a triathlon there, those are all like about two hours that we’re doing just enough to get by, but we’re not actually trying to worry about staying within that three to 5% hydration status. We’re kind of doing just enough to maximize our performance without causing any disruptions to the race plan. Um, and you know, again, the athletes that when they’re out there, you will might even have the best plan. All of a sudden they come through the checkpoint or handoff, but that’s the deciding moment and someone could attack through the aid station and you’ve got to be able to make sure that they can get through that two hours with little to no hydration and nutrition.

Adam Pulford (46:25):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s just it. And it’s, it’s a fine line too. I mean, any, I would always err on the side of, you know, more ideal, uh, hydration and fueling for sure. Um, but it’s a fine line of depleting and in going for it when, um, you know, gold metals on the line, for sure.

Lindsay Golich (46:43):

Yeah. I know it’s crazy, but you know, it’s sport, right. So we also have to keep things in mind too, is that, you know, we’re talking about the Olympics, but if it’s, if it’s your own personal Olympics, but you still have to get home and you’ve got like four kids at home and a full-time job and you have to keep in mind, like you can’t be just completely wasted because yes, we as coaches, we want to see you succeed on that day in sport, but you also have to succeed in life outside of sport too. So, right. So depending on what your world is like, we’ve just got to keep things kind of in the right context of what you, what your timeline is, where you are and all the other responsibilities you have, like on the field and then off the field, so to speak.

Adam Pulford (47:24):

Yeah, yeah. 100%, gosh, Lindsay, I feel like we could, we could literally talk for hours and we didn’t even touch on altitude, which, um, is kind of like your expertise. So maybe when life settles post Tokyo, we get you back on for some altitude talk, but, uh, uh, heat’s a huge stress and it’s a big factor to consider when you’re implementing this into your training program, whether you’re going for Kona, uh, or LA Ruta or the Olympics, it’s, it’s a thing to consider in your training. Lindsey mapped out why the heat can hurt you, how best to train for it, to minimize the stress and to delay that rise in core temperature that she was talking about. It’s inevitable. It will go up and there probably will be some performance detriment, but these tips and tricks and training protocols that she’s talking about will help you feel better and perform longer at these events. So Lindsay, any, any final words of wisdom to our listeners who maybe never even thought about training for the heat, uh, how would, what would you tell them when they have an event coming up?

Lindsay Golich (48:29):

Yeah, I think I mentioned that earlier, but you know, look at your event and work backwards and make sure you’ve got a couple of trials, um, where you’re, you’re putting yourself through these stresses far out prior to your big competition. So you just know what to expect. There’s again, a lot of research that shows that even if you’re not getting ready for a hot and humid environment, doing heat adaptation still has positive applications towards training and competitions in the cold. So you’re not going to lose out on anything by doing something, even if it’s just a short three to five day kind of touch, touch in and see how things are going. Um, but I think it’s important to know like where, where our body’s limits are, um, and understand, you know, get that feeling. So when you’re out there competing and training that you can make good decisions of, you know, I’m at my limit and I need to slow down or else I’m not going to get to the finish line. Or if I drink a little bit more or make sure my bottle’s a little bit colder, um, that I can actually go a little bit further and go a little bit harder. So, um, I think practice in this thing in this context is really important and really critical to just to optimize your performance, whatever your end game or end goal might be.

Adam Pulford (49:38):

Couldn’t agree. More words of wisdom right there. So Lindsey, thank you so much. I mean, I learned a ton. I learned a ton I know our listeners are going to learn a lot from this. And I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to, to jump on this, uh, this podcast. So, uh, good luck to you. Good luck to team USA in Tokyo, and, uh, we’ll be watching.

Lindsay Golich (49:58):

Perfect. Thanks Adam. Thanks.


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