Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sauna Lovin'...

...had me a blast!

Except that I didn't.  In my hurry-up attempt to semi-acclimate myself to the temperatures awaiting me two weeks from today in Panama (projected highs are 97 degrees - egads) I have been hitting the sauna at my local gym.  I have also done research to see the best way to maximize the efficency of my time spent in the sauna.

There are two ways to spend any time in a sauna: actively and passively.  By this, I mean that one can either exercise while in the sauna or simply sit there. It appears merely sitting there has not much of an effect on the overall system other than allowing you to sweat off a few pounds. However, exercising in a sauna presents challenges as well.

First, finding a sauna that is empty empty enough for you to do pushups, crunches, lunges or what have you is a problem.  Second, finding a body that allows you to do any of that is nearly impossible. For me, I will find the empty sauna long before I can effectively do any sort of exercise for more than a few minutes before passing out.  So, I have modified my time spent in there.

My friend Zach Gingerich training for Badwater in a sauna
Granted this is knowledge gained from a small sample size but I have found that I am able to stay in the sauna longer without exercising at all prior than I am if I exercised before going in.  (N.B. In neither case did I actually exercise in the sauna.  Perhaps if I had many weeks to build up to that sort of endeavor I could give it a shot.  However, I am making do.)

So on two occasions, I have swam a 200 yard workout (or varying intensity) and then walked immediately into the sauna.  Heart elevated form the exercise, already covered in water, I found within 3-4 minutes I was already looking at my watch.  The first time I tried this I barely made it 15 minutes total before bailing. Making myself feel better about the entire incident was the fact that the thermometer in the sauna registered 175 degrees. The second attempt of sitting in the sauna after exercising (and third attempt overall) I was able to bump that time up to 20 minutes before I was ready to get out of Dodge. Five minute increase in just one session is not bad.

On two other occasions, I have gone to the sauna with no exercise directly prior. Both times I was able to get to 25 minutes of sitting time with mild discomfort.  The second time (fourth overall; I have alternated swimming and not swimming for my sessions) felt like I could have added another 5 minutes but with a track workout late that evening, I felt it best to not push it.

All told, I feel that even in four minor sessions of siting in the sauna, without even exercising in it at all, I have raised my ability to stand ridiculous heat and humidity, if only a little bit.  With just one week to go before I fly to Nicaragua I am going to attempt to get into the sauna every day to boost this even more.

Even if the overall effect is very little, I think it will at least prepare me mentally for running across a living breathing sauna in Panama.  Fortunately, as this is not a race but merely a "crossing" my ability to slow down and relax when need be will not be hindered by my desire to push to the finish line.

It is all about finishing.

1 comment: