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The Ultimate Ocean Marathon

in SAILING by

The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate ocean marathon, pitting the sport’s best sailors against each other across the world’s toughest oceans.

The legendary race that began in 1973 will start from Alicante, Spain in October 2017 and finish in The Hague, Netherlands in June 2018. Featuring almost three times as much Southern Ocean sailing as in the previous edition, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017- 18 will be contested over the longest distance in the race’s history at around 45,000 nautical miles, crossing four oceans and taking in 12 major cities on six continents.

Joining forces for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018, Vestas and 11th Hour Racing are aiming for outstanding results – both on the ocean and for the planet.

The ultimate ocean marathon demands the ultimate in hydration, and SOS Hydration is a proud partner of Vestas 11th Hour Racing

The crew is a combination of vast race experience and fresh talent, made up of ten males and females, and five nationalities, who will represent Vestas 11th Hour Racing. Find out more

Not all hydration is created equal. Try SOS for yourself today

Why Don’t We Improve Sometimes? Running Lessons From An Olympian

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This post was written by David McNeill for Runner’s Tribe – an SOS HYDRATION partner. 

Too often in my career, I have walked off the track querying my performances; wondering why I ran so poorly when training pointed to something better…or wondering how on earth I ran as fast as I did when preparations had been poor.

The latter scenario has never been so much a concern as it has been a blessing. But in the case of the former, I was always left wondering what it is I did to sabotage my performance; why, despite my best intentions, my performance didn’t improve from one race to the next. I’d like to say the days of unpredictable performances are behind me, but I am human, and I am sure unexplained performances lie in my future. At some point or another, many of us have run a great race, fed off the motivation of that performance in preparation for the next race, and then run poorly that next time around. Why don’t we improve sometimes? Why don’t races always live up to expectations? What is it we do to sabotage training and performance gains?

 Being overzealous is one factor. While it is sometimes easy to equate harder training with better performance, we sometimes jump the gun, and think training harder is the only answer, when often, the first answer is to be consistent. Imagine giving a lemon a squeeze, and getting some juice out of it. Rarely do you get all the juice out of the lemon with a single squeeze. More juice is yielded when we start to wring the lemon. Just as we wouldn’t fetch another lemon before we’d squeezed all the juice out of it, sometimes, we need to keep training consistently before we start training harder.When we prematurely start to train harder, the balance between stress and adaptation is shifted, and we do not recover and adapt at the rate at which we are stressing our bodies. When we train consistently after already seeing improvement, subsequent improvement with the proverbial wringing of the lemon is actually a product of our body’s ability to recover faster and more fully from training, so that we adapt quicker and more completely with each training session. Of course, the time comes when the lemon is dry, and you will need to fetch another. Learning when to be consistent and when to train harder represents the art of coaching and training.

Overcompensating for small hiccups in our preparation can also bring us undone. When we miss a session or when a session doesn’t go well, we sometimes feel the need to compensate by squeezing the missed training into a smaller window of time, or pushing harder than usual in the next workout. This ends up being detrimental in two ways: one is that often, in our haste, the body is not fully recovered from the illness or niggle that initially caused the hiccup when we overcompensate our training. Secondly, by temporarily training too hard or too frequently, we upset our body’s sensitive balance between stress and adaptation. Compensating often has the opposite effect we seek when a niggle, an illness, or a time constraint disrupts our training. Instead of catching ourselves back up in the training we miss, compensating drives us further from where we are trying to get, and sabotaging our ability to improve, even when gains have otherwise been made. But as is the remedy for the hiccups we experience when our diaphragm spasms, the key to navigating hiccups in our training is to take a deep breath; not to compensate, but to accept, recover, and move on. While a hiccup may hinder our progress marginally, compensating irrationally can hinder our progress substantially. Stay cool.

McNeill winning the 2015 Zatopek:10: Pic RT

Another factor that can curtail improvement with training gains is the perception that running faster gets easier with more training. “Train hard, win easy” is a deceptive saying. With training, our capacity to physically endure oxidative stress and the build-up of metabolic by-products improves, but it’s still uncomfortable, and the closer to our physical limits we approach, the more perceptible this discomfort is. While running equally fast may get easier with more training, running faster continually necessitates submitting to discomfort. When we ignore this truth, we can end up blaming everything from our training, to our diet, to our sleep for a lack of improvement, without every questioning our resolve at the crossroad between comfort and discomfort come race time. At the outer margins of our human capacity, when improvements become more marginal each time we get better, increasingly, our improvements rely on our ability to endure more discomfort for longer, than on our ability to get physically fitter. When our supply of lemons dwindles at the limits of our human capacity, we are spending a lot more time wringing out those lemons. We are trying to get the last drop of juice out of them before contemplating fetching another lemon; before contemplating training any harder, and increasing our injury risk. Wringing the last drop of juice out of a drying up lemon is a kin to enduring more discomfort at our physical limits – the juice is there, but we must work for it and endure it, unlike the first early squeeze of a fresh lemon.

I myself am guilty of all three sources of sabotage. And when I have performed better than my training indicated, it was probably because I was a little underdone rather than overdone. Avoiding sabotage is both a delicate mental battle we have with ourselves, and a carefully learned art that comes from experience – both our own, and our coach’s. The best combatant to sabotage is thinking less, and listening more. Most often, sabotage happens when we make irrational decisions – when we are over motivated, when we are thrown off by the unexpected, or when we are overconfident. Half the battle is recognising when we are over-motivated, overconfident, or thrown by the unexpected. The second half of the battle is finding someone you trust (i.e. a coach), and seeking a dose of perspective!

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TED-Ed VIDEO: What Would Happen If You Didn’t Drink Water?

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Lesson by Mia Nacamulli, animation by Chris Bishop.

Water is essentially everywhere in our world, and the average human is composed of between 55 and 60% water.

So what role does water play in our bodies, and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy? Mia Nacamulli details the health benefits of hydration.

A dehydrated brain works harder to accomplish the same amount as a normal brain, and it even temporarily shrinks because of its lack of water.

 

Absorb 3x more water than from water alone with SOS Hydration. Try it here today!

 

Which sporting event has the most extreme energy expenditure?

in BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING/TRIATHLON/Ultra-marathoning/USA by

Written By Asker Jeukendrup for mysportscience.com
Follow Asker on Twitter @Jeukendrup

It is often said that the Tour de France is perhaps the most gruelling endurance event on the planet. The same is sometimes said about Ironman. We saw in my previous blog that energy expenditure in the Tour de France averages almost 6000 kcal per day for 3 weeks (5).  It has been measured that energy expenditure can be as high as 9000 kcal per day. How does this compare to other sports? Is this really the most extreme sport? Is it Ironman… Or is there another event?

In the literature we can find energy expenditure values for a number of events and I have tried to find the highest values for energy expenditure in the literature. If someone knows of other papers that report extreme values please let me know and I will update this list.

There is a report of a male distance runner covering ∼100 km/day for 1,000 km (1), He averaged around 6,000 kcal/day.

Another report describes 2 elite cyclists averaging around 330 km/day for 10 days and expending 7,000 kcal per day (2)

There is also a report of a team of elite cyclists expending 6,500 kcal/day who covered nearly 4,900 km in 6 days during the Race across America (RAAM) (3).

Similar values were also reported in cross country skiers during intense training (6,000 kcal/day) (6).

Dr Mike Stroud, a Polar explorer and researcher, measured energy expenditure in man-haulers over several polar expeditions during the 1980s and 1990s (7). Before these studies the very high energy costs of polar travel on foot appreciated. During a modern-day, one-way expedition to the South Pole that repeated Scott’s route (“Footsteps of Scott expedition”), an average of 6,000 kcal were expended every 24 h. Mike Stroud himself together with Sir Ranulph Fiennes crossed Antarctica by foot and expended on average nearly 7,000 kcal/day.

During this crossing there was a period of approximately 10 days, while ascending to the plateau, during which they averaged nearly 11,000 kcal/day).

A recent study by Dr Brent Ruby and Colleagues (4) compared measurements at Ironman Hawaii (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run (3.8km; 180km and 42km respectively) and the Western State 100 (a 100 mile (160km) ultramarathon). Energy expenditure during the Hawaii Ironman averaged 9,040 kcal (plus or minus 1,390 kcal). In the Western State energy expenditure was as high as 16,310 kcal (plus or minus 2,960) but of course the duration of this event was more than 24 hours on average (26.8h).

It is clear that daily energy expenditure can be much higher than the reported average of 6000 kcal per day for the Tour de France cyclist. Values can be even higher than the extreme values reported during the longest and hardest days in the Tour.

What make the Tour de France unique though is that these extreme energy expenditures are achieved within 4-6 hours of racing per day and also that this is sustained over a period of 3 weeks.

Most other sports with extreme energy expenditures achieve their high numbers by exercising more hours per day at a lower intensity and sometimes by eliminating sleep.

Which is the most extreme sport? Difficult to say… would you rather do a day in the Tour than a day crossing Antartica, or running a 100 mile race in the heat without sleeping?

 

References 

1. Eden B, Abernethy P. Nutritional intake during an ultraendurance running race. International J Sports Nutr 4: 166–174, 1994.
2. Gabel K, Aldous A, Edgington C. Dietary intake of two elite male cyclists during 10-day, 2,050-mile ride. Int J Sports Nutr 5: 56–61, 1995.
3. Hulton A, Lahart I, Williams K, Godfrey R, Charlesworth S, Wilson M, Pedlar C, Whyte G. Energy expenditure in the race across america (RAAM). Int J Sports Med 31: 463–467, 2010.
4. Ruby BC, Cuddy JS, Hailes WS, Dumke CL, Slivka DR, Shriver TC, Schoeller DA Extreme endurance and the metabolic range of sustained activity is uniquely available for every human not just the elite few. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 11(1): 1-7, 2015.
5. Saris WH, van Erp-Baart MA, Brouns F, Westerterp KR, ten Hoor F. Study on food intake and energy expenditure during extreme sustained exercise: the Tour de France. Int J Sports Med;10 Suppl 1:S26-31, 1989
6. Sjodin A, Andersson A, Hogberg J, Westerterp KR. Energy balance in cross-country skiers: a study using doubly labeled water. Med Sci Sports Exercise 26: 720–724, 1994.
7. Stroud M, Coward W, Sawyer M. Measurements of energy expenditure using iso- tope-labelled water (2H218O) during an Arctic expedition. Eur J Appl Physiol 67: 375– 379, 1993

Focus on Sleep and Recovery: Road To Kona with Sarah Piampiano

in Uncategorized by

I want to win the Ironman World Championships. That’s what I’ve wanted since the day I started doing this sport. That’s what I work towards every single day.

 

Scott Dixon Goes For Fifth IndyCar Title

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/INDY CAR/NEW ZEALAND/OUR AMBASSADORS/SOS PRO'S/USA by

Racing for up to 3 hours in over 100 degrees while stuck in a hot car with a fireproof onesie on isn’t the most comfortable – you can lose up to 5lbs during the race.  I know for a fact that SOS Hydration has helped me tremendously. I wouldn’t race with out it.

Written By Ben Stanley for Stuff.co.nz – original source here

Despite racing for his fifth Indycar title in California this weekend, Kiwi motor racing superstar Scott Dixon admits that a change in engine manufacturer and aero-kit left him with far lower expectations for 2017.

Dixon, a two-time former Halberg NZ Sportsman of the Year, sits just three points behind American Josef Newgarden ahead of the season’s final race in Sonoma on Monday NZT.

With two second places in his last two races, Dixon, who has driven for Chip Ganassi Racing since 2002, heads to the Grand Prix of Sonoma with momentum, while the race’s double points mean the Kiwi veteran has every chance of claiming the season’s crown with the final chequered flag.

Scott Dixon wins at Road America in Wisconsin back in June.
Scott Dixon wins at Road America in Wisconsin back in June.
Yet few Indycar experts, members of Dixon’s car crew and the driver himself were that confident he’d be this competitive after Chip Ganassi Racing switched engine manufacturer and aero-kit from Chevrolet to Honda in the off-season. Dixon last raced using Honda in 2013.

“We maybe got, well, not so much complacent, but a little stuck in our ways with how we approached some venues,” Dixon, whose sixth place finish last year marked his worst season since 2005, said ahead of a recent Indycar race in Madison, Illinois.

“[The new engine and aero-kit] was kind of like having a new shiny toy – it was something we could look at a lot differently. We really had nothing to lose because we knew it was going to be a tough change.

“The engine is very good from Honda, but the aero kit is a huge disadvantage. I think we surprised ourselves for the first quarter or half of the season with the performance we had.”

Blair Julian, Dixon’s long-time chief mechanic, agrees with the Kiwi motor racing icon, whose 41 Indycar race wins is now the fourth most successful in the vehicle classes’ history.

“Changing to the Honda configuration and the engine aero-type head was a big deal,” Julian, who hails from New Plymouth, says.

“I actually didn’t expect us to be as competitive as we have been, coming straight out of the box. In St Petersburg [where Dixon finished third], we started off pretty competitive and fast straight away, which was, for me, unexpected. I thought we’d be struggling a little bit, to be honest.”

They had to work hard get the aero kit “all linked together through the race package – but we’re going faster than normal. We’ve got a good team here, so we figured it out.”

SOS Hydration Ambassador Scott Dixon

Dixon capped an exceptional start to the season ahead of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying for the glamour race with the fastest time in 21 years and climbing to the top of the driver standings.

Yet the Kiwi would suffer a nightmare race weekend in his new hometown. Dixon was mugged at a fast food restaurant, before being involved in a horror in-race crash that saw him escape, remarkably, with just a fractured ankle.

Dixon, known for his calm, pragmatic approach to racing, brushed off the crash, but rued lost opportunities for points as the season has progressed.

“We should have won St Pete [and] we should have won Long Beach. We got pole at Indy [500], and got some good points at [the] Indianapolis [Grand Prix]. We should have won or finished second in Texas.

“We look back already and we’ve lost a ton of points – 60 or 80 plus points – that could have made a huge difference.”

More support from fellow Chip Ganassi drivers would have also made a difference for Dixon. Tony Kanaan, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball have struggled to be competitive this year, while Newgarden’s Team Penske teammates have provided ample assistance.

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power sit third, fourth and fifth on the driver standings, behind Newgarden and Dixon.

Dixon may have some Kiwi support at Chip Ganassi in 2018, with Palmerston North’s Brendon Hartley – a former F1 test driver – having been in talks with the Indianapolis–based team.

Whatever the future holds, Dixon, who is planning to drive competitively until he’s at least 40, reckons the wild world of Indycar is still, mostly, as fun now as it was when he debuted in 2001.

“Some things are,” he says, with a laugh. “Some things get …well, you learn to expect a certain amount of things sometimes too when you get older and have been immersed in it so long. I think that also drives the inspiration too, though.”

– Stuff.co.nz

 

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Nick Willis Wins 5th Avenue Mile

in ATHLETES/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S by

By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (10-Sep) — Experience counts on 5th Avenue.

Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis proved that here today with emphatic wins down the famed New York City boulevard. Simpson scored a record sixth title at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile shortly after Willis notched his fourth victory in the event, staged by New York Road Runners on a picture-perfect day.

With the temperature at 70 degrees, low humidity and a generous wind at their backs, both the men’s and women’s professional races were exceptionally fast. Willis broke the tape in 3:51.3 while Simpson clocked 4:16.6 to equal the venerable event record set by PattiSue Plumer back in 1990.

PHOTO: Nick Willis of New Zealand and Jenny Simpson of Boulder, Colo., after winning the 2017 New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

In the men’s race, defending champion Eric Jenkins and Robby Andrews took the early lead for the opening downhill blocks. Craig Engels and former Oregon star Edward Cheserek, making his professional debut, joined them on the front line as they hit the first quarter in about 59 seconds. As the course flowed uphill, 800-meter specialist Drew Windle jumped out front, eager to snag the $1000 bonus given to the first runner to hit the half mile. He dueled with Engels and even dipped at the marker to hold a tiny edge as they came through in 1:58. (Alas, Engels would take home the prize, after Windle faded badly and didn’t meet the requisite 4:00 finishing time needed to collect.)

Engels opened up a gap on the field during the third quarter as the road sloped down, but he was swallowed by the pack shortly after the three-quarter mile mark (2:56). Brits Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman surged ahead, but Willis smoothly positioned himself towards the center of the pack, before launching a perfectly timed kick in the final 100 meters to grab the win.

“I think I ran over one of the manhole covers with 30 [meters] to go and I was already at my max so I was worried that I was gonna fall over there,” said the 34-year old New Zealander, who previously won this race in 2008, 2013 and 2015.

PHOTO: Nick Willis of New Zealand wins his fourth New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City in 3:51.3 (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

O’Hare (3:52.0) held on for second, ahead of Ben Blankenship (3:52.3), with the next five runners separated by only three-tenths of a second and a total of 19 men clocking sub-4:00 times.

“We had a really strong field, so I knew that I’d have to use my experience on this course to run my best,” said Willis, who had run conservatively in the middle of the pack for most of the race. “I knew I had to wait and wait and wait and wait and be the last person to make the move. The finish line always looks closer than it really is, so I used the 1500-meter mark as my gauge to when I really got into fifth gear. I was able to slingshot off of them right at the end and thankfully it was enough.”

A two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500, Willis placed a disappointing eighth at the recent IAAF World Championships in London. “This was a great way to finish what has been a pretty trying season for me with a lot of hiccups with injuries along the way,” he said as he points to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April where he is likely to move up to the 5000-meters.

Simpson took a more assertive strategy than Willis, immediately going to the front of the women’s race. A pair of Brits, Laura Weightman and Jessica Judd, quickly joined her up front through a 62-second opening quarter.

Nobody seemed terribly eager to snag the halfway bonus, so Judd made a last-second decision to go for it, splitting 2:10 and picking up the extra cash (which she says she’ll put towards her upcoming vacation to Hawaii). She continued to force the pace until Simpson and Weightman caught her about 200 meters from the finish. The American cruised home comfortably, with Weightman taking second in 4:17.6 and Judd holding off a late-surge from Brenda Martinez for the final podium spot, 4:18.3 to 4:18.4. In a mass finish similar to the men’s event, 16 women broke 4:30.

“This race can be really different if the wind is at your back or in your face, and the road can be really uneven, and so just knowing how to time yourself and know when to look up at the finish and when not to look at the finish is really important part of timing it right,” said Simpson, who took silver in the world championships 1500 last month, the fourth international medal of her career. “So over the years I think I’ve just gotten it down to a science. And the beautiful thing is, with 5th Avenue, when the road is clear it’s pretty much the same every year, so I know where I want to put in my surges.”

PHOTO: Jenny Simpson of Boulder, Colo., wins her sixth New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City in in 4:16.6, equaling the event record (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

This was Simpson’s unprecedented fifth straight victory down 5th Avenue, dating back to 2013. Her first win came back in 2011, but despite all that success, she knows she’s going to be challenged. “The first quarter mile you’re headed downhill and there’s always this sense in your mind that maybe it’ll feel easy,” she admits. “And then it doesn’t. And then you think, these girls are gonna make me run so hard this year. As I get farther into the race I believe more and more, the crowd gets incrementally louder and louder and I just can’t let people down.”

Simpson will resume training after a 10-day break, and this fall she’ll take her first vacation since 2010 when she and her husband, Jason, spend a week in Hawaii prior to the wedding of her friend Emma Coburn, who finished ninth on Sunday.

Both Willis and Simpson earned $5000 for their titles, which capped a day of 23 heats featuring a record 7664 finishers over a variety of age groups and abilities in the 37th running of the event.

High-Sugar Sports Drink Sales up 35% as School Starts

in BLOGS/USA by

Despite the health risks, parents are stockpiling gatorade and similar ‘sports’ drinks as kids head back to school and back on the field.

Despite the American Academy of Paediatrics and many other reputable organisations, including the Connecticut state government, attempting to limit consumption of the sugary beverages, sports drinks experienced a 35 percent spike in sales over the course of five weeks leading up to school starting thus year. The numbers come courtesy of a recent Nielsen insights report in which parents appear to be apathetic towards increased dental costs and obesity rates.

“Given the current epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity, we recommend the elimination of calorie-containing beverages from a well-balanced diet,” reads the official AAP stance on sports drinks, which carries a notable caveat: Low-fat or fat-free milk, given its Calcium & Vitamin D content. 

Though some research indicates that certain young athletes may benefit from the combination of carbohydrates, protein, or electrolytes sports drinks offer, those studies are greatly outnumbered by studies accentuating the opposite. For most kids engaged in routine physical activities, doing an impression of that awesome Gatorade sweat ad merely translates into empty calories and extra trips to the dentist. Still, all that slurping is understandable if you look at the market; given that most schools have phased out selling sodas, beverage manufacturers have been pushing sports drinks, which have become the third-fastest growing beverage category in the U.S. after bottled water and energy drinks since 2006.

Not all hydration is created equal. SOS has 5x less sugar & calories than Gatorade. Try it here today

Since that time, some school districts have fought policy battles over sports drinks. Connecticut banned them from schools along with soda in 2006 and the The U.S. Agriculture Department launched an initiative to get Gatorade and drinks like it out of schools in 2013. But all that legislative effort is largely pointless if parents are going to send kids with sports drinks in their back packs anyways.

Still, the Nielsen data wasn’t all bad news and shows that parents are at least paying more attention to labels. They found that consumers spend 37 percent more on sports drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners and 19 percent more on drinks free of sugar in the same five-week back to school period. The absence of artificial colours and the presence of antioxidant properties also boosted sales 25 and 29 percent, respectively. And the most popular item of all were apples with $243.5 million in sales.

Road To Kona: Nutrition with Sarah Piampiano

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/SOS PRO'S/TRIATHLON by

Follow professional Ironman Triathlete Sarah Piampiano on her journey to Kona.

In this video, Sarah takes us behind the scenes of how she plans and executes her nutrition plan, and explains why it her changes have been so important.

Trust the process… Trust the plan. 

Forget the post workout ice bath – study suggests hot water, instead

in BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING by

Written by Alex Hutchinson for The Globe and Mail 

The epitome of the hard-core, no-pain-no-gain approach to training is the post-workout ice bath. After pushing your muscles to their limits, you soak them in teeth-chatteringly cold water to speed their recovery before the next gruelling workout.

But there may be a gentler, more soothing path to greatness.

A recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports suggests that swapping the ice tub for a relaxing soak in a hot bath can trigger performance-boosting adaptations that mimic how the body adjusts to hot weather. That is particularly valuable for those training through cold conditions – a Canadian winter, say – for a springtime race where the weather can be unexpectedly hot.

Better yet, hot baths actually feel good, points out Neil Walsh, director of the Extremes Research Group at the Bangor University in Wales and the senior author of the new study. “A hot soak is comfortable for aching limbs,” he says, “and there are other supposed health benefits – think Roman spas.”

Walsh’s interest in the topic dates back to his days as a competitive road cyclist. “I’d always taken a hot bath after a long training ride, and it didn’t make sense to me as a physiologist why a cold bath would be helpful.”

The idea that hot baths, beyond being pleasant, might actually boost performance stems from recent research into heat adaptation. After one to two weeks of exercising in hot conditions, your core temperature will drop, your sweat rate will increase and you will produce a greater volume of blood plasma, all of which will enhance your ability to perform in the heat.

A controversial 2010 study from researchers at the University of Oregon suggested that the same process of heat adaptation could also enhance endurance in cool conditions. This idea remains hotly contested (it was the topic of a debate in the Journal of Physiology last month), but the study spurred interest in more convenient ways of triggering heat adaptation.

An Australian study last year found that four days of 30-minute postrun saunas at 87 C produced a large increase in plasma volume.

It’s important to replace the fluids you lose during heat adaptation. SOS works just as rapidly as an IV Drip. Try it here today 

Still, not everyone has easy access to a heat-controlled treadmill or a sauna, so Walsh and his colleagues wondered whether a simple hot bath could provide some of the same benefits. They recruited 17 volunteers to run for 40 minutes on a treadmill for six consecutive days, followed each time by a 40-minute bath submerged to the neck. Ten of the volunteers were assigned to hot baths at 40 C, while the other seven took “thermoneutral” baths at 34 C.

By the end of the study, the hot-bath group had a lower resting rectal temperature by an average of 0.27 C, their temperature stayed lower during exercise and they began sweating sooner. Their performance in a five-kilometre treadmill trial improved by 5 per cent in hot conditions (33 C), though it didn’t change in cool conditions (18 C).

These are compelling results – but it’s worth nothing that the baths were pretty intense. On the first day, Walsh says, only four of the 10 hot-bath volunteers were able to complete 40 minutes, though nine of the 10 were able to complete it by the fifth day of adaptation. He and his colleagues hope to test less-onerous protocols in future studies: “As little as 20 minutes in the hot bath may be necessary to provide heat acclimation,” he says, but “this needs confirmation.”

So, will hot baths replace cold baths as the default postworkout soak? That depends on who you are, physiologist Trent Stellingwerff points out. Olympic endurance athletes such as those he works with at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific in Victoria already have extremely high blood-plasma volumes, so hot baths may not provide enough of a stimulus to make any difference. Non-elite athletes, in contrast, might see a bigger benefit.

For now, there are few firm conclusions to be drawn. But if you are training through the winter for an event with potentially warm weather, a few hot baths seem like a low-risk insurance policy.

“I definitely felt the heat when I ran the Ottawa Marathon [in late May] in 2009,” Guelph-based marathoner Reid Coolsaet recalls. “It wasn’t even that hot, but I wasn’t used to it at all.”

Coolsaet plans to use a steam sauna to help him prepare for the expected heat of the Olympics in Brazil this year, though the late-summer timing of the Games means that he will not need much help getting used to muggy conditions. “Luckily,” he says drily, “the weather in Guelph in July and August is comparable to that in Rio.”

If you do decide to try hot baths this winter, bear in mind that heat puts additional stress on the body. For starters, stick to 10 minutes at no more than 40 C (a standard upper limit for hot tubs), and get out immediately if you feel dizzy or nauseous.
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