Wow....what a weekend, eh? A massive heat wave in Europe meant that two of the largest races in the sport (Frankfurt / Nice) were in 35 C / 95 F and higher temperatures. There were other races, but I'll touch on just these two and some examples of recent training by athletes. Both Frankfurt and Nice saw large amounts of DNF in the Men's races, and a very unfortunate last KM DNF for Sarah True while leading the Women's race. So glad to hear that Sarah is doing ok after this scare, and will continue to fight on.
Two of the winners from the weekend came from the TriSutto camp with James Cunama (Brett Sutton) and Skye Moench (Cam Watt). Massive congratulations to your two squads! One of the main things I want to bring to this table, although not by any means the only reason these two athletes won their respective races, is the TriSutto methodology of training that many times means we go by feel, rather than being a slave to the data. In a race of this distance / duration / and now added heat factor, normal "racing" power and pace will not be possible and different game plans need to be used. You need to come up with fueling/pacing strategies that work with the day you're given, not the perfect weather scenario. When you go to altitude to train or race, you generally decrease training and racing strategies due to less oxygen availability. So why don't athletes do the same with massive temperature swings.
As a coach, and proclaimed data-junkie, I enjoy using data to manage an athletes training load / fitness / and improvments. But it is all too evident, especially in long-course triathlon training and racing, that these data points and numbers can cause big problems because they are seen as "absolutes" rather than guidelines. It has taken trial and error myself as a coach to observe this and find alternative plans for athletes, but every week finds new challenges. That is why I love to coach, as there is never an end-point to learning. Over the past few weeks, numerous athletes have struggled to hit certain target power/paces while riding/running in training prepping for these races in the heat as well as allergy season here in Europe. It has become a copy/paste response of mine asking a few critical questions to these athletes if they truly listened to the workout prescription of MOD/MED/MAD RPE and how they cross-referenced it with their heart rate / power / pace. It's been evident that perhaps "goal paces" or World Champ qualificaiton requirements ruled the workouts, not what was physically possible/necessary on the day. Athletes need to have the courage to go slower than they might have trained or planned for and get to the finish line the best/fastest way possible. This will often times be at a lower bike power and slower run pace. Perhaps you run a 3.5 hour marathon in 20 deg C weather, more than likely you will not hold the same pace at 35 deg C. So why try? Same with power on the bike. In 20 deg C you hold 250 watts for an Ironman, but in 35 deg C, only 225 watts. That is completely normal! Everyone has to deal with the same conditions, it's not always the most fit, but also the wisest athlete that may prevail on the day.
By all means, manage and guide your training with the data, but on race day, use the super computer in your head to ultimately guide your decisions. Stay safe and race smart!