Thermoregulation for the 2017 Spartan World Championships

  • The Lake Tahoe venue has been home to the past two Spartan World Championships and 2017 will be the finally for this location. One would think that given the history here racers would come prepared for what mother nature has in store. However, my extensive experience with World’s Toughest Mudder tells me otherwise. You always have the rookies who believe they know better than all of those who have come before them and then you have the ones who vow this year will be different but ultimately allow his/her ego to get the better of him/her.The reality is without proper acclimation to the environment your body will, in a sense, FREAK OUT when it is put in a highly stressful and compromising position. The question then becomes how does one prevent this overreaction so you can perform at your best and tackle the Spartan WC like a boss! I am going to go through a number of vital points to consider as you plan your attack on the course at Squaw Valley: 

    Things you SHOULD have done to prepare:

  • Lots of cold water immersions (both outside and in the shower)
  • Planned out your gear so you have items like a hat/ swim cap, wind breaker, Neptune Thermoregulation System or Frog Skin, etc
  • Practiced your obstacles and or Burpees
  • Arrived a few days or even a week early to Squaw Valley to acclimate to the altitude a bit

Items to bring (these will vary based on your experience level, conditioning, resistance to cold, etc)

  • Windbreaker (this is a must if you are not an elite who is moving FAST). I recommend the Frogg Toggs Pro Action Jacket. This jacket is light and packable but still pretty durable. It is also relatively cheap so you can discard it if necessary. The biggest reason this is a great choice is it’s design. The fabric will not compress and stick to your skin when it’s wet. This means it will keep you warmer in the wind! It will also help trap in your body heat. Should you be wearing a Neptune then you will have even more heat to trap in!!!
  • Swim cap or hat. Keeping your head warm is a real key in a race where weather will likely be a factor. Placing these items in a Ziploc bag is a nice touch if time isn’t as much of a factor
  • Bleggmits. These are a great piece of gear for OCR but if you don’t have these puppies then pulling your hands inside your jacket sleeves and maybe even pulling out and holding two of your Neptune heaters will definitely keep your hands warm… Wait you don’t have a Neptune? Yikes!!!

Things to consider on race day

  • Wet clothing will make you colder than no clothing at all… except (see below) , so your race wear needs to be quick drying
  • Less clothing means more exposure to wind so plan to have that windbreaker
  • Being cold causes the body to retain blood in the core of the body in order to stay warm. This lack of blood flow to the arms weakens your grip
  • Higher altitude will affect your recovery. Slower recovery –> means slower pace –> when you move slower you generate less heat. The arid climate also speeds evaporation. Evaporative cooling is one of our body’s most efficient means of heat loss. When you get wet the wind and arid air will combine to speed your cooling.
  • The more obstacles you failĀ  the more Burpees you will do. This means you will be warmer in the short run. However, if more Burpees makes you run slower than you might be just prolonging the hypothermia.

Understanding how all of the above will play into your race is the key. Planning for this is your duty because if you “fail to plan then you plan to fail!” I see my role in this process as educator. Providing you the information so you can perform at your best. I remember the line from G.I. Joe when I was kid “knowing is half the battle!” Now you know so go out there and crush the course!

Godspeed!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *