Friday, October 23, 2009

Ask Coach Kris: Conehead or Not?

Dear Coach Kris:

I noticed that at the Ironman World Championships this year, few if any of the top pros wore aero helmets. The speculation was that this was due to the heat at Kona and the better ventilation available by way of a normal cycling helmet.

Of course, it's hot at Cozumel where I'll be racing too, and aero helmets (like race wheels etc.) provide a bigger advantage to faster racers--i.e., not me. On the other hand, seaside wind could mean that I face a constant head wind at some point on which would make an aero helmet even more efficient.

So, the question: should an age grouper who will be racing Iron distance well under 20 mph in hot conditions wear an aero helmet or go for the increased cooling properties of the ordinary cycling helmet?


Re: Ask Coach KrisGood question. This is going to come down to personal preference. I can not speak for the pros in Kona, but would guess they had made their choices based on hard proven results from training. You may have noticed Chrissie wore a traditional helmet on the bike and no hat on the run. This would have me guess she has some heat issues she manages in her own way.

For you Greyhound, I would recommend choosing a newer aero helmet with plenty of ventilation. Some, like the Lazer, even have ports to dump water on your head. If you can tolerate these, you should wear one. The aerodynamic performance advantages of an aero helmet at an Ironman distance has been proven in wind tunnels across the world. I have personally been a part of wind tunnel experiments at the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel at MIT in Boston, MA and have seen just what they can do.

I hope this helps shed some light on your head wear choice delema. Keep trying things out and go with what works for YOU!


Kris Swarthout
USAT Level II Coach
USAT Midwest Regional Chair
USATF Level I Coach
Co-Owner SCS Multisport LLC

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