The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon in Botswana is a race like no other, challenging athletes with its unique terrain and scorching temperatures. To excel in this extraordinary event, heat training becomes an essential component of your preparation. Let’s explore why heat training is crucial for the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon and how it can give you an edge in this race.
What are the benefits of heat training?
- Getting Used to Extreme Conditions: The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon characterized by heat and dry air. In September, the temperatures can hit the 35 degrees. And you most likely will run for hours in this temperature. Heat training allows your body to get accustomed to these tough conditions. By gradually exposing yourself to high temperatures, you build up your heat tolerance, helping you cool down better and perform at your best even when the heat is on
- Keeping Your Electrolytes in Check: When you’re pushing yourself in high-temperature endurance events like the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon, you sweat—a lot! And that means you lose important electrolytes, like sodium. Heat training lets you fine-tune your hydration and electrolyte game plan. By simulating the race conditions, you can figure out the right balance of fluids and electrolytes to keep yourself properly hydrated during the marathon.
- Mental Resilience in Extreme Environments: The mental challenges posed by the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon are as demanding as the physical ones. Running for long distances under the scorching sun and across vast, seemingly endless salt flats requires mental strength and resilience. Heat training serves as a mental battleground, where you learn to push through discomfort, embrace adversity, and remain focused on your goals.
- Mental Resilience for Extreme Environments: It’s not just about physical strength; the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon challenges you mentally too. Running under the blazing sun and across vast salt flats takes serious mental grit. Heat training becomes your mental boot camp, teaching you to embrace discomfort and stay focused on your goals. Heat training serves as a mental training ground, where you learn to push through discomfort, embrace adversity, and remain focused on your goals.
- Staying Cool: Training in the heat ramps up your sweat production, helping you dissipate heat more effectively. The more heat training you do, the better your body becomes at cooling down. That means you can keep a stronger pace and perform at your peak, even when the temperature soars during the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon. With your body equipped to handle the heat, you’ll perfume better at race day.
So how can you incorporate heat training into your routine?
It’s simpler than you might think! The key is to embrace the sun and train in the heat, even if it goes against our instinct to avoid it. Here in the southern part of Africa, many of us tend to opt for early morning or evening runs to escape the heat. But for effective heat training, it’s time to change that approach. Let’s dive into some tips to help you get started:
Embrace the Purpose: Understand that heat training isn’t about running faster or longer. Its primary goal is to acclimate your body and mind to hot environments. Adjust your mindset and focus on adapting rather than achieving specific performance goals. This means slowing down your pace and even incorporating walking if needed.
Integrate Heat Training: Make heat training a regular part of your training program. Allocate specific recovery or foundation runs to be conducted in hot conditions. This way, you can gradually expose yourself to the heat and build up your tolerance over time.
Start Gradually: Begin with shorter durations of heat exposure. Take a 30-minute walk in the noon sun and gradually increase the time spent in the heat. This gradual progression allows your body to adapt without overwhelming it.
Listen to Your Body: When you start feeling uncomfortable, slow down or even walk. The goal is to expose yourself to hot conditions, not to maintain a specific pace. Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your intensity accordingly.
Be Patient: Give yourself time to adapt. After around four weeks of consistent heat training, you’ll notice a decrease in stress when exposed to the sun. Patience and consistency are key in reaping the benefits of heat training.
To ensure your safety during heat training, keep these additional tips in mind:
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. While your body may adapt to the heat, your skin still needs protection.
- Carry water with you and hydrate adequately throughout your training sessions.
- Remember, heat training is not about speed. Opt for a leisurely walk or a slow jog to avoid overexertion.
By following these guidelines, you can safely incorporate heat training into your routine and reap the benefits of acclimating to hot conditions. Embrace the sun, take it easy, and gradually build your heat tolerance. With time and practice, you’ll become more comfortable in the heat and be better prepared for the challenges of the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon. So, lace up your shoes, grab that sunscreen, and let the heat training begin!