Day 1 – Heat Acclimatisation – 26 March 2011

WOW!! Have just completed my first day of heat acclimatisation training at the Porsche Human Performance Laboratory.

I left the house at 7am this morning to head down to Silverstone, the Laboratory’s HQ. I have to admit, I’m not really into car racing, but actually getting onto the Silverstone grounds was rather exciting. There were all sorts of motor sports taking place…and then I rolled up in my little green Micra and parked up along the long line of Porsches on display.

I had the first session of the day with Chris Chamberlain and his team. I had to hop on the scales to do a full body analysis, which is great as I’m never sure how accurate the scales are at home. I’m 14% body fat (elite athlete range), well within my target weight and have a predominance of muscle over fat in both the arms and legs (unlike your average person). All good signs as far as my training’s concerned (although if they weren’t, it would be a little late to worry). I also had to give a urine sample before and after each session to check my hydration levels – perfectly fine considering that I’m very bad at drinking enough water during the day.

The first session was 45 minutes long. I was in a very small room with a treadmill reaching a temperature of 39.4 degrees celsius and 35% humidity (almost perfectly mimicking what’s to come in Morocco). There was a speaker in the room which piped in music of your choice. I chose Radio 1. The acoustics in that small room were pretty good, so I was able to belt out a few tunes as I ran. And the best bit was the the room was entirely soundproof! The time whizzed by as every 5 minutes Chris came into the room to shove a thermometer into my ear to gauge my temperature and measure heart rate. Rather disturbingly, I managed to sweat a litre of water in those 45 minutes.

Happily a few of my fellow MdS runners were also undertaking the same training at Porsche, so I was able to catch up with them to discuss kit. Everyone’s got a different take on what to pack, but it’s always good to hear different views. The biggest thing for me is condensing everything down, but Ian (a fellow Facing Africa runner) has offered me the unwanted half of his mattress as my one’s rather bulky.

I had four hours to kill between sessions, so I drove out to Bicester Retail Village. If you’re a shopping afficionado, then this is probably your idea of heaven. I can’t say that it is really my thing. The only thing I bought was a salad. I then headed back to the Laboratory and slept for a couple of hours in my car waiting for my next session.

Come the afternoon I decided to try running with my 10kg weight vest and sun hat to simulate my running experience in Morocco. It’s surprising how much you acclimatise after just one session. Although I was carrying more weight this time around and therefore there was greater strain on my body, my heart rate didn’t creep up so quickly as the first session, nor did my body temperature. Completed the second session totally drenched through – yet another litre of sweat lost! Had a quick shower and a long chat with Chris, before returning to Birmingham.

In the evening I caught up with my parents for a Chinese takeaway and my neighbour June, who I haven’t seen in such a long time. Needless to say, I slept well last night.

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