With GNW nearly upon us, the threads of Cool Running and indeed quite a bit of the conversation surrounding this event turns to the weather and hot how will it get down in the Congewai Valley. The last few years it has hit around the low 40’s near the school, and to the horror of a pasty Englishman like myself, it causes me great concern when I think about the long road up towards the Comms Tower and the little ‘rest periods’ I had to take in previous years.
But how do you prepare for the heat? Typically, with this event being in November, it leaves very little time between our NSW winter and the full on effects of the lower Hunter furnace that comes alive around this time of year.So what can we do? I’ve added a few suggestions and tips from things I’ve heard or read below, as well as offer some links from others giving advice out too.
Option One – Run as if it’s -20 in the South Pole
I remember when I first saw a few training buddies doing this and I dismissed it as silly. How could you gain any effect from wrapping yourself up in thermals and a rain jacket when it’s 30 degrees in the Sydney summer and go off gallivanting in the sunshine? First up, everyone looks at you like you’re deranged as they parade around the footpaths in their t-shirts and boardies. Secondly, it’s excruciatingly hot inside all those clothes and you will have major perspiration issues too.
Yesterday I tried this for the first time, given we were blessed with a 30 degree day here in Sydney. The plan was to do a brisk 10kms around the Bay in Rozelle at above average pace (average pace being 5min kms) and just go with the flow.
The first few kms felt good and I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. But slowly and surely, as the metres progressed, my thermals became ridden with sweat, which then transferred to my lightweight, but extremely sweaty rain jacket. By 5kms I was a mass of sweat, dripping from the inside of the jacket. Other runners in their singlets and shorts looked at me as though I was on day release from the local funny farm. As the run moved on, I noticed a draining feeling in my legs, something you associate with a 50km+ run, but had the early onset of at 7kms this time round.
Then came the light-headedness and by 10kms I was pretty glad to stop. Total time 47 minutes. Not quick, but not shabby, but certainly over-cooked! Did it work? I’m not sure, but one thing it did do was get me used to feeling uncomfortable in the heat and that’s something I think mentally you do need to get used to ahead of the descent into the valley at Congewai. Mentally you have to be prepared for the yucky hot feeling that encompasses your body.
Option Two – The Steam Room
When preparing for the MDS a few years ago, I came across some theories that using either the steam room or sauna (depending on what type of heat you’re going to encounter) a few weeks prior is good, so ahead ofmy run in the desert I did two weeks in the sauna. The reason being is that you can help to raise your core body temperature a little, so that in theory you can cope with the heat better. Again I’m no scientist or doctor and mainly run off what I’ve heard of read from other’s advice, but I can see the logic here.
Some people are better at running in the heat because, well they live in hot conditions so their body adapts – this is what I’m assuming. I guess the same goes for people who live at altitude too. So with that quite a few runners I know will enter the steam room or sauna each day for two weeks prior, slowly building up their tolerance to it by staying in a little longer each day.
Again, does this work? I think there is some truth in this one and have been incorporating it as part of my preparation for GNW this year.I did it for the MDS too, and I must admit that overall, the heat never really bothered me that much as we loped around the Sahara, but it was a very different kind of heat to what you experience over here in Australia.
These are just a few simple things I’ve come across in my attempts to better prepare myself for the heat that GNW brings. Of course, none of this matters if it’s 25 degrees and overcast on race day 🙂 But the aim is to offer a little bit of insight as to what you can do to prepare yourself for what comes around midday on race day. It also goes without saying that other factors do come into play here too, such as making sure you pace yourself correctly, take on board descent amounts of water and also watch your salt levels too.
As always, interested to hear the thoughts of others on this topic and their opinions, but in the meantime, I’ve posted some links below to some useful heat training guides:
Marathon Guide – Heat Training
Ultra Running – Heat Training Guide
Camille Herron – US Rep Marathon runner
6 thoughts on “It’s Getting Hot in Here…”
Good timing Dan 😛
It’s probably too late to do heat training for GNW, but when I was preparing for C2K (coming from the cold of late fall in California) I found Bikram yoga helpful. Otherwise I don’t like Bikram yoga and wouldn’t do it, but any kind of “hot” yoga (Bikram keeps the studio at 104 F, about 42 C) is a nice way to get in a good stretching routine while in intense heat and humidity.
Nice work Dan,
I’ve actually been going from air conditioned room to air conditioned room and sleeping with icecubes strapped to my body in a bid to make this race as brutal as possible. Bring on the heat i say!
I think, everyone should prepare on the way, that the race is going to be. OR choose a race what is similar to the training you’ve done.
Even If I am not going for the first spot, I like to pull off some sort of performance. That’s what running is about, no ?
I usually see a few guys running in those sweat suits here, yeah they are funny. BUT, not fast, and neither without the clothes. So why ?
Do you think it is possible to train hard fully “heat” dressed up ? For instance, 30K on a 4:00/km pace ? If someone can do it, well I think it is possible to get accustomed to the heat in cold climates.
What about the opposite ? Train in hot environment for cold race. There is no suit for this 😀
Different era and a different type of race – Triathlons 1980s. I sort of consider this the ultras of the 1980s. We used to train in the Bowral cold to condition ourselves for cold swims. We would swim in the pool which was only open 3 months of the year – 14 degrees was the coldest water temperature pre heating. Also we would have cold showers. Not sure if it physically worked but it definitely toughened us up for races in Cooma, Canberra and New Zealand Ocean swims.
Well done – good article and improvisation.
Great article – but it makes me realise that I will never do this race – racing in the heat is not my cup of tea!