I’m running on a Woodway Curve treadmill, fully aware of its famous claim of not using any electricity to power a motor. If their marketing slogan of ‘powered by sweat and determination’ was true I’d be running at 100mph. My eyes have a choice of views, a blank white wall getting splashed with black drops as my sweat hits the treadmill, gets mixed in with the dirt from my shoes and flicks up it, a display screen showing how slow I’m running and how little distance I’m moving, a timer showing how long there is left of the death march or two A4 pieces of paper on the wall displaying three scales of thermal comfort (1-4), thermal sensation (1-7) and RPE (6-20). Every 5 min I am asked to use the scale for feedback. It’s safe to say my thermal comfort is a 4, which means there isn’t any. My thermal sensation is a 7 which means very hot and my RPE is gradually climbing which if the very attractive female scientist wasn’t my girlfriend the answer would be a ‘what do you F*#king think!?’
It isn’t the treadmill, or mind numbing views that are making my legs feel like jelly or causing there to no longer be a dry bit of skin or clothing left on my body. It’s the fact I’m in a 35 degrees C / 70% humidity heat chamber at Roehampton University doing my first of ten heat acclimation sessions. Over the course of ten sessions, the scientists at the university are going to help my body deal with exercising in a hot climate, such as the one of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Body temp is measured (not through the mouth or ears, unfortunately), along side performance markers such as cycling power, running pace, heart rate and RPE. To go along with this you are told your sweat rate and advised on how much fluid and electrolytes you should be rehydrating with.
It’s an absolute no brainer for anyone who is going to be racing in a hot climate especially if training in British summers… I’d even say it is worth doing for athletes going to train in hotter climates as you won’t waste any time once you’re there getting used to the heat. The first session is energy sapping, morale smashing and downright awful. It’s hard to wrap your head around just how much heat has an effect on performance. There is only one way to improve though and that’s consistently exposing your body to hyperthermia and exercising. You leave pretty light headed and if you go hard enough feeling pretty sick! I just about managed 10km worth of intervals during my first 1-hour session and felt like I did on the 3rd day of my 3 marathons in 3 days challenge. The upcoming 90min sessions are certainly going to be interesting! I look forward to updating how I get on!