Thursday, June 5, 2014

Training Experiment #2

Here's where things got really interesting. 

All of this is going on in the off-season. I can try things. If they don't work out, no big deal.

During the time that I was working through my electrolyte issue, I read this article. The article summarizes Dr. Rhonda Patrick's summary of research done on the effects of sauna use on performance. 

Read the article if you must, but I highly recommend that you take the 14 minutes to watch this: 

Among other things, sauna use POST exercise ( 2 sessions for 30 minutes per week) was shown (once again in men only) to increase blood plasma, oh wait....I'll just cut and paste from the article.
  • Improved cardiovascular mechanisms and lower heart rate.
  • Lower core body temperature during workload
  • Higher sweat rate and sweat sensitivity as a function of increased thermoregulatory control
  • Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle (known as muscle perfusion) and other tissues
  • Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved muscle perfusion
  • Increased red blood cell count (likely via erythropoietin)
  • Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles.
WOAH, wait just a minute. Sauna use in MEN increases blood plasma, lowers core body temp, increases blood flow, reduces gycogen depletion.

Is this starting to sound familiar to anyone?

These are the issues that women are faced with in days 16-28 of their cycles.


What if I could boost my own blood plasma....and yadda yadda during the luteal phase? Would it help my performance in hot training and racing conditions?

That was all I needed to start my own experimenting. 

(BTW-Don't try this at home, and if you do and get sick, pass out or die, that's on YOU. Not me. Take some personal responsibility.)

One of the parameters was that this needs to be done post exercise. Easy peasey. I can go right after a swim.

I started in the earlier part of my cycle. The first time in there I could only handle 12 minutes, and I got out. BTW: My sauna temp ranges from 190-200 degrees.

The next time, I was able to stay in 25. Then, 30 minutes. Unlike the study participants, I did this after my swims which meant 3-4 times per week.

It was actually pretty easy until I got to days 16-28 when all that stuff starts happening in my body. The very first day, I could only handle 20 minutes and had to get out. The next time, I was more prepared. I drank considerably more fluids during exercise. I drank more immediately before getting in. I also took in about 1400mg of sodium during 1.5 hours of exercises.

What happened? In days 16-28, I was able to handle the heat of the sauna.

That's all fine and dandy, but how did it affect my performance?  After using the sauna 3-4 times per week for almost 2 months, I had my first run in over 90 degree temps. It was an easy run.

I never even felt the heat. Keep in mind, I'm also fueling appropriately and according to the recommendations of Dr. Stacy Sims.

The next time, I had a hard workout in the heat. (Rule #1: Don't do hard workouts in the heat until you are acclimated).

What happened? I blew through the workout. 

I was so amazed that I had already acclimated without actually "training" in the heat. 

Even more amazing, it doesn't matter where I am in my cycle....not as long as I fuel correctly during the different phases. I still fuel the same way, but I feel better now that I'm using the sauna than before when I wasn't. I have MORE energy and can handle higher levels of workload.

You might be thinking, "Oh this is no big deal." IT IS A HUGE DEAL for men and women. 

Remember the benefits:
Endurance athletes often bonk when they have depleted their muscle glycogen stores. Hyperthermic conditioning has been shown to reduce muscle glycogen use by 40%-50% compared to before heat acclimation.

Participants in the study were able to run 32% longer than before their sauna experiment.

Exercise causes muscles to grow (called hypertrophy). Heat causes muscles to grow (hypertrophy). The two together cause hyper-hypertrophy. In other words, you're becoming a super-athlete.

oh.....don't be a lazy the video. It will explain everything.

This is incredibly useful for men. As a woman, given the hormonal changes that occur during the luteal phase? THIS IS FREAKING HUGE. 

We can offset (to some extent) the effects of hormonal changes simply by using a sauna? Obviously, this is straight up my own hypothesis. No research has been done on women. All I can say is that I started 2 months ago, and I have been reaping the benefits with no plans on stopping. 

Between Training experiment #1 and #2, I raced a couple of weeks back and felt stronger than I ever have. 

Keep in mind, I'm also doing training specifically to help me with what were my own limitations. However, I firmly believe that I would not even be able to make it through those tough training sessions without making the changes that I did.

During my race 2 weeks ago, I could have pushed much harder than I did, and I could have really pushed at the end of the race. 

That's a feeling I have never had. 

I almost feel like I have a secret weapon.