Next weekend around 2000 people will lace up their shoes, stuff gels into race belts and line up next to the Police station on Umm Sequim Road for the Start of Dubai Marathon. Having run, watched and cycled this event I know the route is far from iconic for the “Dubai oldies.” Up and down beach road is not the most enticing or exciting of routes but for those standing on the start line who have been in the UAE preparing over the summer. The race could not come at a better time.
Cast your mind back to August and September – Getting up at 3, 4, 5am to go and run. It was hot and it was humid! And you questioned every day why on earth you would put yourself through such endeavours. Well, if you persevered, you did the right thing.
Training in the heat can be a very useful tool because of the way the body adapts to the heat. When running in the Summer the body’s internal temperature rises. The body deals with this by taking the blood being pumped from the working muscles (in this case, your legs) and pushing it towards the skin causing a method of cooling we call dissipation.
To keep Homeostasis and stop you falling to the floor in a heat induced coma, the brain will override your ability to run at intensity before you can do any damage, this is known as the Central Governor Theory.
Your bodies 2-4 million sweat glands work in overdrive and the secreted sweat is cooled via evaporation also helping to cool the blood close to the skins surface.
Athletes training in hot conditions have shown to have increased blood plasma volume. This is effectively your ticket to running gains! More blood plasma means the body can route blood to the skin for cooling WITHOUT compromising the O2 supply to the working muscles.
Other benefits include decreased heart rate because having an increased blood plasma means the heart needs to pump less to elicit the same blood supply around the body.
Increased run economy, which means less energy being used at an aerobic pace. A real key predictor of marathon performance!
WHY DO WE CARE?
Currently in Dubai the temp is 14°C and raining, it’s beautiful! A far cry from the dismal summer and early Autumn months. Athletes will be racing in temperatures anywhere from 14-25. The physiological adaptations made in the hot training sessions (discussed above) will carry over and offer you improved running economy and lactate threshold (ability to sustain high intensity for a specific time period).
Those that completed their hot sessions and have continued training as the temperatures have dropped will have some additional performance gains compared to those who didn’t. The good news, studies have shown that benefits can be seen in as little as 7-10 days, so there is still some time to get those midday runs in!
Wherever you have been training, enjoy the race! Be smart, run strong and we shall see you on the finish line.
By; Rob Jones, Endurance Performance Coach