Sweat it Out!

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

I just finished my seventh heat training session as I prepare to run the HURT 100, and at last, it is starting to feel a little easier. 

Heat training before a warm-weather race is important for those of us who live and train in cold climates, because if our bodies are given the opportunity to adapt, we can make it just a bit easier to run in the heat on race day.

Following the careful prescription of Marian, Sarah's ultra-running sister in Hawaii and a member of the HURT, I've been going to the gym bundled in layers and cranking out an hour or so on the treadmill while forcing down as much water as possible (ideally 2 liters or so).

Our bodies use less water when it's cold outside since we don't have to sweat much to stay cool, and so at the moment my body is pretty un-adapted to the heat. The point of heat training is to change that, and force my body to use more water.

The first day was not pretty.

On my first heat-training day, little over a week ago, I could feel the water sloshing around in my stomach, and while I felt hot from the outset, it seemed to take forever for my body to actually break a sweat and start cooling down. I didn't do much running that first day; I mostly power-walked with the treadmill set at its steepest incline. Today went a lot better; I think the heat training is working.

I had a funny experience at the gym, though.

I was about 30 minutes into my workout (and dripping with sweat) when an older gentleman came in. We exchanged waves, and he went about his workout. I could tell, though, as I watched him in the mirror, that he kept looking back at me. I figured he wondered what I was doing, since I was quite a sight to see, dressed fully in sweats with a layer or two visibly poking out underneath.

He approached, and said, "Miss, you don't need to be losing any weight. What you're doing isn't very wise." He figured I was using the old weight-loss trick employed by wrestlers and boxers trying to "make weight," sweating it out in heavy clothes.

I laughed and thanked him for his concern, but told him that what I was actually doing was probably even more unwise than he could've imagined! I then described the 100-mile race I'll soon be running, and how the heat training works. He could not believe anyone in her right mind would want to run 100 miles, but he wished me luck and we both finished our workouts.

See you on the trail!