Athlete trains in UCP Marjon's heat chamber for marathon
A RUNNER preparing to travel to the Sahara Desert to take part in the gruelling Marathon Des Sable is getting a helping hand from some of Plymouth's top sports experts.
Jo Meek, pictured far right, is a marathon runner based in Tavistock.
In April she is travelling out to the Sahara Desert to take part in the endurance running event held every year.
Due to the arduous terrain and the extreme heat experienced by athletes, the Marathon Des Sable is revered as one of the world's toughest ultra-distance marathons.
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Marjon is working with Jo to prepare her for the physiological challenges of running in such a demanding environment by providing her with a heat acclimatisation programme.
The programme requires Jo to exercise in the environmental chamber at the Marjon sport science laboratory at an ambient temperature of 35C for one hour per day for 10 days.
A spokesperson from Marjon said: "Doing this will help Jo's body adapt to the heat by repeatedly stressing the thermoregulatory system.
"During each exercise bout her core temperature will increase to approximately 38.5C and she will sweat around 1.5 – 2 litres.
"By doing this regularly Jo's body will adapt in that she will become better able to cope with the temperature."
Throughout the programme factors such as Jo's core, skin and average body temperature will be measured and used to assess physiological changes.
Other factors such as lactate production, fuel use, whether Jo is burning carbohydrates or fat, will be monitored, and her psychological perception of the work will be recorded.
The work is being supervised by Dr Joe Layden. The programme aims to give students at Marjon an opportunity to get hands-on experience of physiological testing and a chance to work with real athletes in an applied setting.