Heat Acclimation


Experience From - Scott Weber , Fred Vance , Fred Vance #2 , Scott Weber #2 , Rick Kelley , John Edgcomb , Steve Simmons , Jay Hodde , Ray Zirblis , Jeff Selinger , Steve Benjamin , Norm Yarger , Fred Vance #3, Steve Simmons #2,

Scott Weber

Zoie Ensslen wrote:

"Aside from the probability I should quit lollygagging and run harder and in all seriousness, and on to the next topic, how should one heat train here in Edmonton when we have so few days that are really hot enough to be considered "heat" training days?"
I have a similar problem here in Colorado: how to train for the July Hi-Tec Badwater 135 held at Death Valley.

I begin my heat training in the dead of winter using an indoor cycling rig to spin on. I overdress to create a micro climate. I start with a neoprene wet suit as well as a wool hat and gloves. As my heat training progresses, I add additional layers of clothing to add more stress and heat. The goal is not simply to be miserable, but to teach my body to process ever-increasing amounts of liquids. These hellish rides usually last an hour. I'll do a couple a week from January through April. Three to four of these rides per week in April. Then, in June, more intense and longer sessions. Also in June, I begin to run with all this extra clothing on.

The above works for me for Death Valley. It could be toned down and still be quite successful for less intense heat and distance.

Fred Vance

In an article on heat adaptation that I read once, one thing that caught my attention was a statement to the affect that heat adaptation wasn't as pronounced in people who were in good physical condition. I know people don't like references to unspecified literature, so I'll try to remember to dig out the article when I get home.

I don't train for heat. I just try to train for running and although I may not be representative, I have not had a problem with running in heat. I am however, very good at sweating. To be honest, I have no idea whether you can train yourself to sweat.

I would think that if you can't sweat, you could compensate by dousing yourself with water occasionally to get the evaporative cooling effect. If the only purpose of sweating is to cool your body, then you might actually have an advantage over someone who sweats a lot, like me.

Some people try to condition their bodies to process fluids. I have always thought that the reason for this was to replace fluids lost from sweating. This may be important to some, but if you're not sweating, then training your body to absorb more fluids may not be necessary.

Maybe one of the medical or physiological experts on the list can tell me whether there is any value to the body in losing electrolytes by sweating. Otherwise, I would think that sweating is just for cooling. Could it be that we simply can't cool ourselves without losing electrolytes?

Fred Vance #2

Karl did an excellent job of answering my question. I promised to post my source on heat adaptation, so here it is:

"Acclimatization to Heat in Humans", John E. Greenleaf and Hanna Kaciuba-Usciko, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, 1989.

An excerpt from page 20:

"Results from an earlier study, where highly trained men failed to show the characteristic cardiovascular and thermoregulatory responses during exercise-heat acclimation (Greenleaf, 1964), suggested that these subjects were essentially acclimated to heat."
Because this is taken out of context, I will add their conclusion to this paragraph:

"Thus, the advantage trained subjects have over untrained subjects when exposed to exercise/heat stress is the lower strain when both are subjected to the same absolute exercise load."
This is why I stated that I train to run, not for heat.

As Karl pointed out however, there is some value in eliminating electrolytes in sweat. Learning to sweat therefore seems to be useful.

Greenleaf and Kaciuba-Uscilko write:

"Indeed, Du Bois (1939) said it best: "...there is no one human attribute of more importance than the ability to sweat skillfully." (p. 21)"

Scott Weber #2

'in competition in the heat, the heat-acclimatized athlete will always have an 'edge' over an equally fit, but unacclimatized opponent" (Noakes, Lore of Running, p. 110)

From Lore of Running: p 366 (concerning Ron Daws "Track Suit Technique") Noakes writes:

"Acclimatize yourself to the heat if the race is to be run in the heat"
Some degree of heat acclimatization can be achieved quite rapidly. Five to eight exercise sessions, each up to 2 hours, on consecutive days in the heat produce acclimatization that lasts for several weeks. However, it seems that there are quite large differences in the length of time different marathon runners believe they require for acclimatization (Browne, 1986). Some feel that acclimatization can be achieved in days; others believe that even 6 months is too little (Browne, 1986). Heat acclimatization likely is only ever optimum in those who are born in the hotter parts of the world and who train regularly in the heat.

Thus, sometime in the weeks leading up to a hot-weather race, you should undergo heat acclimatization either by running in the midday heat or by training in a track suit. How Ron Daws used the track suit technique to earn a place on the 1968 Olympic Marathon is detailed in his book (Daws, 1977) and should be read by those who are forced to compete in the heat but who live and train in cool climates.

In brief, Daws collapsed with heat exhaustion at the 40-km mark of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, run at midday in New York City with dry bulb temperatures of 96 degrees F. The race was won by Buddy Edelen who had been training in England in temperatures of 50 degrees F. Edelen's secret was that he trained each day wearing 5 layers of clothing. Daws subsequently used the same method for heat acclimatization; his technique was to train with 5 layers of clothing 4 days per week for 3 weeks, a total of 12 training days. He found that it was not possible to train each day with full clothing, so he trained in normal running attire on alternate days.

As a result of his attention to detail, Daws comfortably won positions on the United States marathon teams, the selection races for which were run in extreme heat on each occasion.

Rick Kelley

"Last year, I started out by running in extra clothes most days-- for example, wearing a polypro layer and my goretex suit when the temperatures were in the 30s. I felt miserable, tired and thirsty, on nearly every run, even though I drank water throughout the run. So after several weeks I gave up."
Sounds like you simulated the conditions pretty well. I live and train in Tucson, Az. When training for WS '95 where it got to 107 in the canyons, I had trained by running 5-8 miles in midday heat (100-110 degrees) in the river bed several times a week for the last 6 weeks before the race. 'I felt miserable, tired and thirsty, on nearly every run, even though I drank water throughout the run'. The important fact is that I survived WS '95 and probably wouldn't have had I not heat trained extensively. Anyway, I think you are doing all you can do given your climate. I read recently that heat training daily for 10-14 days is the most efficient method. I tend not to agree with that because I have done some really hard core heat training over the years with really great results but heat training daily for 2 weeks can be extremely stressfull and you can get all of the classic results of overtraining from it. Continue doing what you had been doing and settle into the fact that running under those conditions is not the most fun but is necessary for your success at WS '98 if it is a hot one. Good luck!

John Edgcomb

On the subject, I just happened to be reading Running Research News on the bus into work this morning and it included a short article on heat training. A couple of the most salient points:

  1. Research indicates that you can become fully adapted after 7 days of hot weather training, but only to the extent of the conditions in which you have trained.

  2. Research suggests you can adapt nearly completely by running just 30 minutes per day for about one week, as long as your training is fairly intense, e.g., about 85% of max. heart rate or above.

  3. RRN also says it is true, as Brian suggests, albeit somewhat risky, that wearing extra clothing can help you simulate warmer conditions than actually exist and thereby increase the desired heat training effect. The risk is that you seriously increase the chance of dehydration and serious overheating, so if you go this route, exercise some common sense in doing so. RRN says to limit running efforts while overdressed to no more than 10 mins. Also, this is not an effective weight gain strategy.

Presumably the "research" concerned 10K-marathon training, not ultras. However, the principles would likely be the same.

Steve Simmons

With 4 weeks left to prepare for Death Valley I have put heat training off for the last month before the attempt, and here in this areas' cool climate I can only dress warmly and train in the heat of the day to prepare.

I've done mild heat training last year when preparing for WS by running with heavy sweatshsirt and warm weather hat. My experience with it then was that my runs were slower and the heat just seemed to surpress my strength. One thing I keep in mind is that humidity zaps strength, so I'm not exactly sure what to expect in Death Valley's dry heat.

As for the training itself, I'm hoping some experienced Badwater people could answer some questions.

  1. Does the weight of the heavy clothes wear person down even more so than the heat itself?

  2. How over-dressed for training is recommended?

  3. Do you simply dress alot warmer and then go for your normal training runs, or do you run extra mileage in the heat in addition to regular quality training mileage?

Exactly what is a person trying to accomplish by this? Are you simply trying to get used to suffering to get mentally stronger? Or are you really trying to learn how to perform in the heat? Or both? I realize both would be better but is the performance aspect even possible?

I'm assuming I could also better prepare myself by doing regular work such as mowing yards while over-dressed and things like that.

Jay Hodde

Matt said, in response to Stephen's question:

"The object of heat training is to adapt to drinking faster, sweating faster, and conserving salt. Most of the adaptation occurs in the first 10 days."
From what I hear, the challenge of Death Valley lies in the heat precisely because the ambient temperatures are much greater than normal internal body temperature.

When a 98F/37C degree body gets placed in a 120F/49C environment, it MUST sweat to lose heat because the body's ability to radiate heat to its environment is lost.

My preparation here in the 95F/36C 100% humidity of Indiana is getting me started on the road to adaptation, but only by experiencing the extreme environment for the week prior to the run will I hope to survive the desert "comfortably".

Ray Zirblis

Some thoughts on heat training, with the caveat that I have not done Badwater. I did, back in the 80s do two runs part road, part overland from Badwater to the top of Telescope Mt. Sorry, I didn't know about the Badwater race, and this seemed like fun. I heat trained for the Marathon des Sables this April, and while it was not particularly hot, not on pavement, and is a stage race, perhaps some my experience would be helpful.

I do poorly in the heat, and had dropped at the Orlander Park 24 hour last Fall at about 52 miles or 10 plus hours due to heat/ humidity. It just took the starch right out of me. So I faced the MdS with some concern. Along with training very hard in general, I 'heat trained' as follows:

  1. I worked hard to drop about 5-6 pounds. I am medium to stocky build, so I could do this without loosing strength, and it really helped.

  2. I did ten sesions of specific heat training in the two weeks before the race. These were five one hour stairclimber sessions dressed up like 'Rocky Balboa' in three layers of sweats with hood and sometimes gloves. Needless to say, the speed was extremely slow, and the goal was just to put in the time and to drink repeatedly. Oh, yeah, I was also wearing a 25 pound pack. Every other session was just a regular run after which I'd put on layers and sit in the sauna and drink water for as long as I could take it, shooting for about an hour.

  3. The heat was so bad sitting in the sauna that I would sometimes begin to panic. I'd feel like I just couldn't take another minute. I'd get out for five minutes and go back in. Getting used to that panicy feeling and being able to breath thru it, came in handy.

  4. While I had been using sport drinks and products such as 'S' caps on my LSD runs for the past four months, I quit and just used water for this training period with the goal of reducing salt loss.

  5. One of the confusions for me was how heat training fits with tapering for a race, since these both take place in the final countdown weeks. They seem somewhat opposed to one another. My resolution was to limit these stints to about an hour and not over do it as I normally would. And if an hour on the stairclimber, over dressed and carrying 25 pounds seems like a lot, it really wasn't compared to what I'd been doing. So while this is heat training, it shouldn't be endurance training as the runner should have done that and sharpened already. This is just to further open the sweat pores, reduce salt loss, get used to drinking and eating, and as mental preparation.

  6. It was very important that I drink a lot before and afterward.

  7. Yes, I think doing anything-mowing the lawn, cycling, whatever, would do it, though I've come to respect the idea of specificity of training, that one running is truly what trains one for running.

While racing: While running in the Sahara, starting with about a 16 pound pack plus water, I was amazed to find myself bone dry. Sweat disappeared so quickly that it was easy to forget one was sweating. But on the first day when I got to camp, my sleeping bag was saturated through my back pack from sweat. Again, the temperature, while plenty hot at 90 to 125 degrees F. by my thermometer, was not as bad as usual according to the veterans.

I didn't feel nearly as bad as I did at 85 degrees F and high humidity at Orlander Park last Fall. The hidden trap here was that it was easy to forget to rigorously keep hydrated. I made several mistakes on the long run day, about a 48 miler, and the most serious was giving a liter of water to a Japanese guy who had run out as we were crossing a dry lake bed in a stiff, hot wind. I felt fine and the next water was 5 miles ahead. But I was on the edge, and when I used up the half liter I'd kept, my condition changed IMMEDIATELY. I was soon staggering and couldn't go in a straight line, kept wandering off route, and ended up losing a couple of hours walking it in and recovering, before I got back running. Thus, a day when I should have done well, I fell back, because I didn't credit how serious my need for continual water was.

Also, when it is very hot I found it easy to forget to eat or take in calories in a drink. Thus, it is worth eating a bit as well as drinking in your heat training to see what that is like.

The other thing I learned was to use the cooler times of the day, and to save myself for those times. By the way, I don't know what the drill is for Badwater, but it seems an obvious recommendation to have your crew make sure your drinks are cool. The water I imbibed during the MdS was ambient temperature.

Finally, while I know there was some disagreement on keeping cool while running, back a few weeks ago, in my opinion full body protection of loose top and bottom and hat with scarf, really made a difference in coolness, along with the the other benefits.

Jeff Selinger

Rich Benyo wrote me and had some much more informed comments on running in the desert. This answers the questions in my post and quashes some of my suggestions, so take a look...

Rich writes...

In the midst of deadlines for Marathon & Beyond, but happened to see your e-mail on desert cooling. From what Tom Crawford and I found in Death Valley, during the daylight hours, there are several factors:

  1. You are getting heat directly from the sun, it is radiating up from the asphalt, and it is assaulting you in the form of hot air, often aggravated by wind, which (combined with the usual 0% humidity) wicks your body of fluid before perspiration even gets a chance to reach the surface.

  2. Sweat doesn't run off you in Death Valley. Not unless you bring together two segments of skin so they are protected enough from the dry wind to allow perspiration that is evident. By that I mean, sit down to take a rest and lean your elbow on your knee; sweat will percolate out from the skin where the two sets of skin touch. Otherwise, the environment is so dry (turbocharged by the wind) that you appear not to sweat, which is how a lotta people in the desert get behind in their fluids. Just sitting around in the shade in the desert, you're like a sponge the air is attempting to suck dry so it can equalize the humidity in the environment; unfortunately, the gradient is incredible.

  3. It is important to train the body to "process" fluid. This is done by gradually applying the exercising body to longer and hotter periods of time so it can learn (which it is readily willing to do, if given sufficient time) to "use" fluid poured into the stomach instead of just send it off to spaces between the cells (where it does no good and bloats you something fierce, only to drain out gradually as urine after you stop) or it sits in the stomach where it is very willing to make you sick to the stomach. Experiments at Ball State Univ. in the late 1970s by Dave Costil indicated that a well-trained marathoner under roughly 70-degree controlled temps could process only two quarts of fluid per hour. At that rate, you'd a dead rabbit in the desert. It is, however, possible to train the body to process more-about double that.

  4. It is a real treat to your body to be covered in breathable white, which is probably why the Arabs do it, because it bounces back a great deal of the radiant heat.

  5. Our finding was that spritzing the hot, exercising body in the desert with cold water is counterproductive because it shocks the body into wasting a whole lot of valuable energy adjusting itself to the rapid change from cold to hot skin. Better to stay as wet as you can as long as you can, or as dry as you can be for as long as you can take. Constant changes in temps (especially when theya re that extreme) diverts an awful lot of energy from what you want to be doing (moving forward to get the damned thing over with) to adjusting and readjusting your body's thermostat to accommodate constantly changing temp conditions.

  6. As far as the soles of the shoes go, air soles fail to slow down and actually tend to speed up the transfer of the heat of the road across the air environment to the undersides of the foot; better a thicker sole (through which heat isn't going to be transferred as easily) that can be changed periodically when the heat does manage to build up and reach the sole of the foot. In 1992, on my return trip, the air temps were 128 and the roads over 200. I was moving mighty slow, so the shoes were picking up the heat pretty good and storing it, the soles of the shoes building up internal heat, until they became too hot to walk on. I tried hiking shoes, but they eventually built up too much heat, also, but it took longer for them to accumulate the heat.

Take my advice. Stay away from desert racing in midsummer. It can have a very profound negative effect on your mind. Need I mention more than "Scott Weber"? I rest my case. ("Hi, Scott! Where's my story?)

>>> Later Rich writes >>>>

I'm with you; covering up in the sun is good; the desert nomads have been doing it for centuries. We should also remember that those who have become lost in the desert and whose water runs out become insane, and one of the first things they do is throw off their clothing; the second thing they do is run around in circles. That should tell us something.

I learned a lot from this discussion.

Steve Benjamin

The most trustworthy advice concerning desert competition comes from those who have been there. Rich Benyo has not only been there, he's written about it, and his classic book, Death Valley 300, describing his round trip, contains the best advice I've seen on running in extreme heat.

Perhaps the most important lesson from the book is summarized by Rich's postscript in the preceding thread - extreme heat makes you crazy. Anyone contemplating competition in heat need only spend an hour in a sauna (throw in some light exercise) at a temperature high enough to make it uncomfortable to understand that heat, like altitude, climb, and distance, is an independant and formidable factor in endurance racing. After 30 minutes or so, a strange desperation sets in, and every minute becomes an eternity. In conventional ultras, if the pain becomes too great, all you have to do is stop and rest. In the heat, there's no place to go. So you just lose your mind.

Norm Yarger

Some comments on cooling:

The only modes of cooling available are conduction, radiation, and convection. In general all of these modes must be from the hotter to the cooler item. If your surroundings are hotter than your body's core temperature then heat will flow from them to you. The one "exception" is convection with evaporative cooling causing the air around your body to become slightly cooler than you. That is the only mode that works at that time.

At night the radiation cooling may also cut in since the night sky is very cold (almost absolute zero). But during the day you do not get any radiation cooling unless there is something cooler than you so clothing does not make you warmer by slowing down radiation. Now maybe the folks in the mideast with loose fitting robes have something. Cut down on the radiation heating but allow the air to move over your body for evaporation cooling.

Fred Vance #3

An analytical approach to running Badwater doesn't seem to work. If the ambient temperature is higher than 40C (104F), the human body will eventually reach 40C unless there is a cooling mechanism. At a sustained body temperature of 40+C, a human will die. Maybe the reason that Badwater, the run, apparently defines logic is that we don't consider the actual conditions and the importance of evaporative cooling.

Those of you who haven't experienced Badwater should realize that the runners can come off the course and return when it cools down. However, cooling down is a relative term. At midnight, the temperature will be 100+ degrees. The coolest part of the day is near sunrise when the temperature might dip slightly below 90F for an hour.

Marshall Ulrich once set the AM start and PM start records for the Badwater course in one run by running one mile in the morning, and then restarting his run in the evening. Avoiding the heat of the day may be a good strategy.

Many runners resort to extreme means of avoiding the heat. For example, climbing into their air conditioned support vehicle and taking a shower in their RV. Ben Jones once had a casket filled with ice water in his U-Haul support vehicle. (I've heard, second hand, that the air conditioning doesn't work well in the RVs, and that the shower water is hot only.)

Very few runners are able to stay on the course for the entire distance. I believe Jim Magill did this in '97 for second place and Gabriel Flores did it last year for a new course record. I suspect the front runners and perennial winners like Marshall Ulrich and Lisa Smith stay on the course. It is an amazing feat. Their finish times are not as impressive as the fact that they do finish in these conditions.

If you are inclined to be analytical about the energy balance and heat transfer in the human body, don't under estimate the effect of evaporative cooling. In arid climates, people often use evaporative water coolers in their homes instead of freon based gas compressor type air conditioning systems.

Heat conduction through shoes is also a significant factor. The black top road is indeed at 200+F and if you step on it with a typical running shoe you can feel the shoe becoming squishy and soft within minutes, even before the heat hits your feet. I believe Rich Benyo has recommended taking extra shoes because the glue holding normal shoes together melts, and they come apart.

The shoulder of the road for the most part is light colored small rock or gravel that doesn't get nearly as hot as the black top. In my opinion, it is an excellent running surface, and I don't understand why someone would run on the black top during the daylight hours.

When the temperature is 110+F in Death Valley, internally generated heat, and external heat conduction, convection, and radiation are all working to push the body temperature above a viable range. The only possible mechanism for cooling is evaporative cooling which requires water in and/or on the body.

Someone recently posted the fact that at the Marathon Des Sables, runners carry all of their water. Water carried with you in the desert will not stay cool. Although runners are not running in the heat as long at MDS as they do at Badwater, it appears to me that they are running in much more difficult conditions. This further demonstrates the amazing ability of the human body to cool itself by the evaporation of water.

Steve Simmons #2

Subject: Pre Race Training for Badwater

I would never be hotter during the actual event than I was throughout my over dressed training run/walks in the month before the race. One in particular, 2 weeks before the race, and the last of my extreme heat training, was the pinnacle of my suffering.

In the heat of the early afternoon I left out wearing a t shirt, sweatshirt, thick insulated Navy working jacket, topped with a thick non breathable dark green raincoat, sweatpants, and a cold weather hat, and gloves. The temp was about 90 with close to 100% humidity.

I had driven to a point along a climb just before my run and placed a cooler full of ice and water in the tall weeds just off the road. As I was stepping over the guardrail, a vehical sped past going down the mountain with the driver taking note of the situation, peering back through the rear view mirror.

The majority of my training miles in the month before were done slightly over dressed, with about 2 heavily over dressed sessions a week thrown in. On runs when I opted for quality mileage and ran just slightly over dressed I ran in the heat of the day. All of my runs were to include at least slightly higher than normal heat to build an overall tolerance to it. Even in the evenings and late at night when I went on my routine fast paced enjoyment runs with Thor I'd opt to enjoy the humidity wearing a little more than usual.

My approach was to learn to accept the heat, "embrace it" as my crew for the race, Fred Vance had told me in the month before. And as a cool weather mountain runner, I accepted the heat and learned to like it and deal with it. Aside from that, the heavily over dressed training would physically teach my body to adapt to the rigors of heat.

From the start of this afternoon run I felt strong despite the weight of the heavy clothes as I immediately began to climb one of the many long, steep, San Francisco like streets. I remembered what I learned throughout the month of heat adaptation, "pace is critical". Strength and comfort will decrease shockingly fast in the heat. A lesson I had learned the hard way a few times in the last month. And on the bright side, it would end, the time "would" come when I could throw off the heavy clothes and once again feel the comforts of cool air. Hours away, but it would come. Hours away didn't seem tolerable at times, like telling a drowning person they'll be able to breathe in a few hours. Monotonous. Part of the mental toughening aspect of it all. Enduring.

After the steep climb out of Bluefield, I began the steep 2 mile climb up the mountainside to the scenic overlook at 3,400 feet. The windy road up was what I thought would be almost a carbon copy of the windy steep ascents of the Badwater course that I had read about, only shorter. The climb up and over, down and back up the mountain is one of my many regular routes anyhow.

With hindsight now, I was correct, the roads were very much alike, only those at Badwater steeper in places. About a mile up I started walking slow, this was the hottest I had been in my training and I wasn't feeling well.

Not far from the top I made my way through the knee high grass and weeds to the cooler and looked around. Not there. This was the spot. I was somewhat ticked off to say the least, and even more had been really looking forward to the cold water and ice.

Stepping over the guardrail I thought, "Maybe, just maybe it's this next spot of weeds where I put the cooler." I was sure my cooler had been stolen though, "It was a nice cooler". A few steps into the weeds, just 10 yards from the first spot, was my cooler. A welcome sight. Not just because of the water, but because I still had my cooler.

I collapsed to my knees in the dried straw and briers where I filled my bottles with ice, water, grassy sticks and pollen. The point in real endurance where a person stops being a normal person and becomes more like an animal, not caring the slightest about the many pieces of grass and who knows what throughout the ice and water and gulps it all down in great haste. Then topped off my bottles.

The climb continued slowly up to the top and then down the Virginia side of the mountain aways. I was walking very slowly, nauseated, exhausted, robbed of my strength. In the heat I was overcome by the vile smell of a dead animal carcass rotting in the unrelenting Eastern heat wave, carelessly thrown over the steep bank with lot's of other human trash.

A 1/2 mile down the other side I turned left off the main road and began a very steep climb straight up a rugged, rocky atv road that climbs around 300 feet in a 5th of a mile. So steep, so hot, the heat pouring off the dark gravels, I made my way about 10 yards at a time, pausing a few seconds then onward. Finally reaching the top of the mountain with it's high towers and antennas along the snakelike ridge.

From there I began an even steeper descent back down another rockier trail to the road below again. The 2 roads form a triangle, both starting less than 1/4 th of a mile apart down on the main paved road, and then converging at the same point on the ridge at the top of the mountain. On my regular routes here, I run up one, down the other, turn around and climb the one I had just descended to the top again and descend back down the first climb again. A monotonous triangle pattern I ran over and over, up and down while training for Barkley.

This day I would only run the triangle pattern once, then return over the mountain back home. When I descended to the main road I did an about face in the middle of the road and started to climb again. I was so exhausted and run down, I climbed a few yards at a time bent over, hands on hips, head hanging down looking at my feet, to tired to look upright, stretching out with long, slow walking strides.

Shortly up the very steep 2nd climb I was overcome by the exhaustion and collapsed under some sticks and bushes along the side in the shade. I was breathing very deeply. Gasping for air as if it would cool me off. I laid on my stomach stretched out, but there was no relief, no air. I sat right back up and stretched my legs out in front of me. First one, then the other. No matter what I did I couldn't sit still. Like a person under water struggling with no air, thrashing about, I felt is if I was suffocating.

I could only sit still a matter of seconds and the panic would set in and I'd have to move. Lean back, sit up, put my legs out, pull them back up to my chest, nothing I could do would relieve the monotony of the heat. My mind felt heavy with thoughts racing through it. My breathing was labored. For the first time in all my training I realized I could die. I wasn't going to surely, but people die from heat exhaustion all the time. And just because I was enduring extreme heat with a purpose didn't make me immune to the laws of the mortal human body.

All along there was one act I could have done to instantly relieve the monotony, to have undone my jackets and thrown off my clothes. I craved to do it. It would have been like reaching the surface and taking a big breath of air. I needed to do it. But I wouldn't accept it. There would be no escaping the heat in Death Valley, and to tolerate it and overcome it would be very hard. To make it back home without giving in and enduring this heat would be what I call tough.

In the collapsed condition I was in, that very relief would be even hours more away than I had planned, but I had to endure. My face clinched in discomfort I sat there and accepted my pain as something I could not change. Like a fish out of water, my breaths became less frequent, more shallow, and my movement gradually ceased. The dry ground saturated with drops of sweat all around, and my clothes all covered in dust that stuck to my wet clothes.

I just wanted to go back home to my cats and dogs who were much much smarter than I. I concentrated on the joys of just sitting still in the shade, the joy of each deep breath. A minute passed, then another, and I did cool off some, at least internally.

Always present was the heavy, wet, hot insulation of the 4 layers of clothes, my forehead was hot to the touch, my outer external surface burning, but inwardly, I was cooling. My breathing returned to normal, and I reached a point of comfort and stillness sitting in the dust.

Eventually I moved on, yards at a time again, up to the top once more finally. Then back down the first climb of the triangle to the paved road, and back up the overlook slowly, concentrating on minimal effort.

Going down the other side I drank the rest of the water and ice at my cooler, endured many looks from people and slowly made my way down the mountain and down the hills back home to where it came, the time when I could throw off those heavy, soaked clothes. Instant relief. It felt so good. If I wasn't ready to at least mentally endure the heat of Badwater, then I never would be. These small adventures weren't merely training runs, but small feats of endurance themselves to be reckoned with. I thank JESUS for the strength and saftey granted me.

The 4th of July I ran a blistering, for me, pace in a late afternoon Wilderness 8k in 95 degree heat & humidity down a steep mountain road and then up the mountain 1000 + feet on a rutted atv trail without hardly the slightest bit of effects from the heat. I drank lots and finished 2nd overall, 6 seconds behind 1st, in 25 minutes and some seconds. I felt very strong, and had truly physically adapted to heat.

My last training runs were after midnight runs with Thor in the cool of the night where I had seemingly endless strength up and down the steep streets. I had done all I could to prepare for Badwater.