RAAM can be lost in the very early going if you're not prepared for desert heat. Since I'm here in Oregon - not widely known as the land of dry heat despite RAO's best efforts - people often wonder how I'm going to deal with this.
Simple - fake it. Not "fake it" as in "pretend it doesn't matter", but "fake it" as in creating some simulated heat conditions that will hopefully acclimate me enough that I can respond properly when the time comes.
OBLIGATORY WARNING: THIS IS NOT - IS NOT - A GOOD IDEA FOR MOST PEOPLE. JUST BECAUSE IT WORKS FOR ME DOESN'T MEAN IT'S SMART OR SAFE FOR YOU. TAKE YOUR MEDICAL ADVICE FROM COMPETENT, LICENSED PROFESSIONALS. That being said...
Here's how it goes. I try to "heat train" days twice a week, typically right after work. I start with a two-hour stationary bike workout at the gym, no fan - a really tough one, at threshold with frequent bursts above. During this workout I take in a token amount of food - say, a gel or two - two bottles of water, and an electrolyte tablet every hour.
The underlying principle is that I am trying to teach my body to sweat profusely for as long as possible, because sweating is the best mechanism we have for cooling ourselves. It seems to be working. Long before two hours is up, I'm drenched, the bike is drenched, there's a rapidly growing puddle on the floor, and the other gym rats are giving me a pretty wide berth.
OK, enough of that....refill the water bottle, re-empty it in the next five minutes while I stretch. Now, a very quick shower...and into the sauna for a half hour. The gym I use - CourtSports Fitness in Eugene - has a very nice sauna. That's why I'm there. I toured every gym in town last fall, and the best sauna won.
Mostly, hanging out in the sauna is a relaxing, meditative time, but for a thirty minute stint, especially after a two hour workout that left me pretty wrung out, the last five minutes are hard. Really, really hard. It took a while to work up to thirty minutes - ten or fifteen was pretty comfortable from the get-go. I know I'm getting close when I'm watching the clock. Toward the end, I'm sweating much faster than the hot, dry atmosphere can evaporate off. It's really important to stop here, while the sweat rate is at its peak - otherwise I'm risking heatstroke.
The last time I did this workout, I ended up leaving a rather distinctive mark on the cedar planks:
I seem to be channeling Our Lady of the Perpetually Flexed Biceps! When I got up, dried myself off, and saw the results of my hard work, I just had to snap this photo. It's better than finding the Virgin Mary in my grilled cheese sandwich. WAY better. (Come to think of it, when's the last time I had a grilled cheese sandwich? Would that be excellent recovery food, or what?)
Out of the sauna, a few minutes' rest while I put in another bottle of water and electrolytes, shower, and we're done. Home by 8:30 if I'm doing it right, or 9 if I'm stopping off at the Market of Choice for dinner fixin's.
Current music of choice is Japanese Taiko drumming. Soul-stirring stuff. This is one of my favorite cuts, called "Heartbeat". One reviewer referred to it as a "very sweet pounding" and I'm inclined to agree. I can definitely see myself hauling up the Yarnell Grade with this music reverberating off the cliffs.