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Sauna Training: Advanced Tips

Sauna Training: Advanced Tips

Advancing your sauna training.

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As an experienced sauna user, there are a number of techniques you can use to go above and beyond regular training and really prepare for extreme heat running.

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The first is to exercise in the sauna. Again, be considerate of others. If alone, one of the best – and most exhausting – things you can do is shadow box. Even if you don’t know how to box properly, imitate the movements you’ve seen on screen. Stay on the balls of your feet, lunge and rock back and forth, keep up a guard, and throw occasional punches. Bob your head as if to avoid blows. This will rapidly (and I mean rapidly) elevate your heart rate and breathing. Vary the routine up by using a jump rope (in most cases, an imaginary one) for a minute, then simply dancing back and forth for a minute whilst holding your guard, then throwing a series of rapid punches. This exercise takes up very little space and I guarantee that if you can master twenty minutes of this, you’re in terrific shape.

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Your gym may have a step that you can borrow; set it high if you expect to be gaining elevation on your run. It has taken me six years to become capable of doing 500 10″ steps in a single session, so be careful not to overdo it. This is a less intrusive workout, and most people won’t be too bothered by it.

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You can also engage in strength exercises; use the bench to brace for sit-ups, for example. My sauna has facing benches that allow for push-ups and dips, which are eminently satisfying. Use gloves if you want to use free weights; even plastic ones rapidly heat up and become very uncomfortable to the touch.

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With vigorous exercise the time you spend in the sauna will drop to 25 minutes or so. Be even more aware than usual of your limits. I often find that the gap between feeling just fine, and feeling like I’m going to drop dead, is as short as five minutes. The instant you feel dizzy or get a headache, get out.

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If you’re truly nuts, there is one way to push yourself even harder – and if you maintain it, even Death Valley seems slightly less impossible.

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Start with long tracksuit pants and a Cold Gear shirt by Under Armor. Over the weeks, add layers. These days I never train in less than three thermal tops, thermal long pants, jogging pants, gloves and a hat. I wear a ski mask from time to time to really see stars. If you can train for 20-25 minutes in all this gear, or relax for over an hour, then you will have little trouble adapting to extreme heat running. Please note that I don’t recommend this, even for serious athletes. I’m just saying, you could.

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A couple of final things to bear in mind: if the staff has recently cleaned the sauna, it will retain water and the relative humidity will significantly affect the time you can spend working out. Don’t try and meet an unrealistic target if there’s moisture in the air. Also, vary your routine so that you occasionally spend more time relaxing; three workouts and two relaxation days will improve your stamina and your tolerance together.

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Sauna training by nature pushes you harder than your body is willing to endure. Over time you can build a tolerance that will be satisfying and safe, but you must take that time and always keep in mind that your safety is key. If there is any indication of headache, dizziness, blurred vision, coughing or other unusual symptoms, just walk out the door and come back healthy another day.

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Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice… but you already got that, right?

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Jon

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Keep up!

Jon Rice

Jon is a highly-experienced runner who adopted the sport of heat running in 1996. He visits Death Valley every year to participate in his bizarre creation, The Darth Valley Challenge - a one-mile charge through the desert in the height of summer, dressed as Darth Vader.

To prepare for such silliness he takes extraordinary precautions. He trains year-round in the sauna, runs countless miles in extreme temperatures, and has crewed the Badwater Ultramarathon twice.

Jon's only request as you read this site is that you prepare carefully, tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back, and take more water than you think you'll need.

Visit The Darth Valley Challenge (www.darthvalley.com) for more information!
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3 comments

  1. A big thank you for your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

  2. Great post and keep it up. I will be back soon

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