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Heat Exercise: Better Than Altitude

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Back in the day, I lived in San Francisco where I discovered summers were given to the fog and chill Mark Twain alluded to in his famous quote. When I made trips back to Iowa, where I grew up, I would enter local running races and experience the difference between a San Francisco July and an Iowa July. Lacking the adaptation that heat exercise can give, the fitness I brought with me to the local Cedar Rapids 10km road race seemed to drain away at about the three-minute mark.

If I stayed in Iowa a couple of weeks though, I would train in the hot, humid weather, and adapt quickly. I’d suffer for a few days but after that it wouldn’t bother me as much. And I’d race again, able to sustain something pretty close to the pace I could run in San Francisco.

In fact, I’m not surprised heat exercise is possibly more potent than altitude training.

The last three summers here in the Boston area, I’ve been testing this idea out. Today I pulled over the car next to a baseball field and slugged my way through 200 burpees.

Heat Exercise Report

My report is this: I’m still in an adaptation phase with high-intensity heat exercise as I begin a plan to lose 20 pounds. My heart rate was steady for the first 100 (which I performed in sets of 25).

Things got ugly through the second 100. The sun was punishing. Sets of 25 crumbled to sets of 10 or 12. My heart rate climbed into the 170s. The feel of the field grass and the thick air reminded me of two-a-day football practices, back in the Augusts of Iowa.

Back then I didn’t know much about the underlying concepts of training and exercise. All I recall knowing was that after a hot-weather session of calisthenics or sprints, it was good to have it over. I’d be dizzy and burning with thirst, but at least I could x it out on the calendar.

Same with today.

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