It seemed like he was running with a paper bag on his head as Ryan Sandes crossed the Sahara Desert in 52°C heat. He said, “It feels like you can’t get enough air in.” “Every breath you take in is extremely hot.”
In the Four Deserts Race, which took place in the Sahara, Gobi, Antarctica, and Atacama deserts, the South African ultra champion finished first in three and second in one. He’s also raced in 45°C on the historic Western States 100 Miler, where he took first place in 2017, in the madness of the Jungle Marathon in Central America, and in the deserts of Madagascar and Namibia. Ryan has obviously gotten used to the heat; here are his seven suggestions.
According to Ryan, “heat has a huge effect; it makes you a lot more tired and moves slower.” Mentally, it’s more difficult. The good news is that the body adjusts to heat quite effectively.
Develop an attitude of acceptance
Acceptance is key to mental toughness, according to Ryan, whether the difficulty is dealing with high altitude as he and Ryno Griesel did when they established the quickest known time on the Great Himalayan Trail or tolerating extreme humidity in the rainforest. He claims that running in the heat presents both a physical and mental hardship. You have to acknowledge that it will be more difficult and accept it. Similar to jogging at a high altitude, you must accept and learn to live with the physiological limitations that will inevitably arise.
Advantages of Modeling
Ryan trained in an environmental chamber at the Sports Science Institute of Cape Town in order to get ready to run across the Sahara. For an hour or two, he ran on a treadmill in the cramped space while the instructors set the temperature to resemble that of the Sahara. He says, “Knowing that I could run in those temperatures gave me a lot of confidence.” “I believe that a big part of it is about not freaking out and accepting that it will be challenging. That instruction was really helpful.
Few of us live in places where environmental chambers are available. Ryan advises taking saunas a few weeks prior to your race if you don’t. “Enter a sauna or steam room and just sit there or do a few light exercises every day, or every other day,” he advises.
An additional method of simulating would be to wait for the afternoon sun to rise, put on a few more layers of clothes, and go for a run. Ryan says, “Get the body sweating and being more efficient in the heat.” It’s something you pick up easily and something you lose soon. Just concentrate on finishing this two or three weeks before the tournament.
Make a plan.
Make a strategy for staying as cool and hydrated as possible before to the race or training session. Consider carefully how much water you will need to carry, where you may restock on water along the way, and when you might be able to cool yourself. Ryan advises, “Try to determine how much electrolytes and water you need for your training.”