Andreas is an Assistant Professor in Human Physiology at the University of Thessaly and an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Medicine at the University of Ottawa. He studies the mechanisms through which the human body adapts to extreme environmental stressors. He is Georgios’ scientific and research advisor and will be joining him in the Sahara in a scientific capacity.
Andreas tells us how he plans on assisting Georgios’ training for the Marathon des Sables.
“The environment at the Marathon des Sables is characterized by extreme heat and solar radiation, low relative humidity, and direct physical contact with the hot desert sand. Running an ultra-marathon in such a harsh environment means that Georgios must be extremely well prepared. To support him in his preparation in the best possible way, I have designed a heat acclimation protocol that aims to improve Georgios’ thermal comfort and submaximal as well as maximal aerobic capacity when exercising in the Sahara desert. To achieve these, the heat acclimation protocol is designed to induce increased sweating and skin blood flow responses, plasma volume expansion and overall improved cardiovascular stability (that is, improved ability to sustain blood pressure and cardiac output) as well as fluid-electrolyte balance. The ability of the heat acclimation protocol in meeting our objectives will be assessed by a series of heat tolerance tests that Georgios will undertake at specific time points before the race. These tests will allow me to evaluate Georgios’ heat acclimation progress as well as to make any necessary changes to the protocol in order to achieve the desired objectives.
In addition to heat acclimation, the preparation plan that I have designed to prepare Georgios for the Marathon des Sables is taking into account a number of other factors that will certainly impact his health and performance during the race. The most important of these factors include hydration (before the race, during each race stage, and post-exercise rehydration between race stages), cooling strategies (before each race stage and between race stages), as well as thermal effects of wearables (impact of clothing and other wearable equipment on Georgios’ heat dissipation capacity).”