One of the questions I get asked is: How hot is it going to be? Usually followed by: I’m sorry, you said how hot? How are you going to cope with it?
By July, we should be seeing temperatures of 110 to 120 degrees (just checked the weather for Badwater, where we’re starting, and by Friday, May 4, it will hit 105 and pretty much stay there for as long as AccuWeather projects out). Here in St. Louis, by contrast, it will be about 85 degrees, which is warm for running, but a bit shy of the temps I’ll be experiencing. If you saw my Twitter pic, you’ll know that I’ve started heat training. In fact, I just finished 5 days of it, spending 100 minutes a day getting ready.
Since we can’t do much about the air temperature, I need to get my core body temperature up. I’ve done that by dragging a heater into my exercise room and getting the temp up as high as I can. The combination of cooler mornings and a very small heater means that so far, I’ve only topped out at 82 degrees for a high, but it’s enough for now. I then put on my “fun pants” which are neoprene wetsuit pants, and a winter compression shirt on top. Over that, I’ve started to add another layer on top, and then the always fashionable and extremely comfortable silver PVC suit (top and bottoms, no tie) over that. Then it’s just a matter of getting on the treadmill and not passing out for an hour and 40 minutes while drinking about 40 ounces of sports drink.
I’m only going about 3 miles an hour at this point on a 3 degree grade, so I cover about 5 miles and gain about 800 vertical feet. By contrast, from mile 42 at Stovepipe Wells to mile 59 at Townes Pass, I’ll climb 5000 feet in 17 miles (about a 5.5% incline) and in the last 12 miles to the summit (miles 134 to 146), I’ll climb 6,145 feet (about a 10.5% incline, but at least it will be cooler!). Before we go out there, I’ll do two more of these heat training sessions, but for 10 days in a row rather than 5.
Why not use a sauna? I hear you ask. Two reasons: 1- A steam sauna isn’t a realistic environment for the dry heat of the desert, and 2- A dry sauna, at 160 degrees, is actually too hot. Good question, though.
What’s the biggest challenge? Again, thanks for asking. The biggest issue I have to deal with is boredom. Being on a treadmill for that long, I try to read or watch TV, but SportsCenter repeats itself every 30 minutes and I still haven’t mastered walking and reading at the same time. So apart from catching up on a few e-mails, I don’t do much there (plus my iPad is not waterproof, and I tend to sweat a bit). I’m usually doing this early in the morning, so the best part is when my son wakes up and has his pre-breakfast with me (usually laying on the floor or with Mom, not on the treadmill). It does mean we end up watching Thomas or Chuggington, but it makes the last 30-40 minutes a lot more enjoyable, and reminds me why I’m putting myself through this!