I love to run and rather than succumb to the monotony of the gym I like to run varied routes around my house. My favorite is one I call the ‘Powerline’ which is a 5 mile trek that switches between sidewalk, road running and cross country (that’s the powerline part where my dirt trail follows a huge highway of powerlines connecting two major roads). It’s always a challenge to run here in South Florida in the summer given the heat index that we experience. Even at night it’s really warm – though the absence of the glaring sun is literally the difference between night and day as far as running endurance and difficulty go.
Cooling down. credit: Nigel Holmes
Like any runner, I’ve become pretty familiar with my endurance and energy and I like to monitor the factors that influence the overall quality and difficulty of my run. What’s the biggest influencer? In practical terms, time-of-day, because that’s what drives the temperature and the amount of direct sun I’m running in. What I’m amazed by is JUST how much difference the direct sun and temperature have on my level of exertion and endurance. During the winter where we see temps in the 70’s I can run at a pretty fast clip and reel out a 45 minute run without tremendous strain. I’ve come to adjust my expectations to run around 30 minutes before taking a break during the summer, and then I can usually only take another 10 minute stretch. During the heat of the day in the summer (vs. an early morning run), I’ll find myself really struggling to make even 25 minutes before stopping for a rest. On a percentage basis that’s a huge performance gap.
I came across a recent article in Spirit Magazine, Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, about a couple of Stanford University researchers who came up with a way to rapidly cool an athletes body down. It’s called CoreControl RTX, for rapid thermal exchange aka ‘the glove’. Two Stanford biologists, H. Craig Heller and Dennis Grahn invented the device a few years ago and have now licensed the technology to a Michigan company called AVACore Technologies, a company that they are both major stakeholders in. The company they formed is charged with making the device commercially viable.
“The device invented by Grahn and his colleague, Stanford biology professor, H. Craig Heller, makes it possible to markedly enhance human physical performance by cooling the body core quickly, in 10 or 20 minutes. This temperature regulation allows athletes to recover from intense training and to increase their strength and endurance without using questionable supplements or anabolic steroids.” — author Heather Millar, Spirit Magazine
coreControl device by AVACore
Professional sports teams like the Oakland Raiders and fellow athletes all over the world are now using AVACore technology to give them an edge.
“Robert Weir, head coach of menâ€™s track and field, gets ready for his strength-training regime by loading hundreds of pounds of weights onto both ends of a bar that rests in brackets at shoulder height. Weir moves under the bar, hoists it across his shoulders and does squats. With each repetition, his knees and hips fold until his thighs are parallel to the ground, then straightenâ€”rep after rep with the equivalent of a baby elephant draped around his shoulders.
Like any athlete, Weir is well acquainted with his normal performance range. Like any athlete, Weir looks for an edge. A few years ago, he was intrigued when he heard about a deviceâ€”that has been called at various times the RTX, Core Control or simply The Gloveâ€”invented by a pair of Stanford biologists. Using the device to lower his core body temperature between sets, he was able to lift 495 pounds in four sets of squats instead of his normal two. He usually does squats only on Mondays, but he decided to try a second series a few days later. That Friday, he was able to increase the weight to 545 pounds. â€œI was surprised the sets felt so good,â€ he says, but adds that the real test came the following Monday. Weir, 44, expected to see significant performance degradation due to the extra Friday workout. Not only did he not see the decay, he increased weight with every set. The RTXâ€”for rapid thermal exchangeâ€”cooling device â€œis a very serious piece of equipment,â€ he says. â€œAt my age, you donâ€™t expect to be setting personal bests during workouts.â€ He trained with the cooling equipment for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and placed third in the discus. His oldest competitor was 15 years younger.” — author Eva Ciabattoni, Stanford Magazine
If you’re interested read more about their research here.Â
My next move? Hand in ice bucket between laps or sets. Must try.