Heat training

 my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

Hey forest freaks,

As the temps climb up near the 90s here - holy cow! - I've been feeling the heat in my afternoon runs. Thought it would be useful to re-post my article from last autumn reporting out on heat conditioning! There are a lot of myths out there about women being unable to acclimate appropriately to heat - and that is simply not true. 

Lotsa links to scholarly articles in here so go down that rabbit hole.

Brittany Raven

On April 20th, 2017 I took my first shirtless run of the season. On May 2nd, 2017 I told my IG followers that I was going to undertake purposeful heat training for the summer. On September 18th I next wore a shirt on a training run. 

This was a hot summer. I clocked over thirty runs at temperatures exceeding 95F - ten in a row over 100F. Adding to the heat was the impenetrable smoke which forced me to wear a ventilator on runs through all of August and part of September. The ventilator, much as it did an excellent job of filtering the smoke, also acted as a hypoxia-inducing mechanism by limiting the in-flow of oxygen as I went.

I'll back up and also confess: I have historically loathed the heat often telling friends and clients I'd rather be hypothermic than even a little warm. However, after choosing the Methow Valley as home, I had to befriend the heat if I intended to keep running - and I intend to keep running. 

So back in May I suspended my loathing of the heat long enough to devise a loose program of heat acclimation intended to increase my tolerance. As I researched how to acclimate to heat, I found a litany of other benefits of heat training: increased tolerance of cold, increased VO2Max in hot and cold conditions, and training adaptations similar to those I have experienced at altitude. The mechanism for all these useful changes? Increased plasma volume (a la pregnant blood doping!). 

 smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

For the month of May, I purposefully waited until the hottest part of the day (which was around mid-eighties) to do my runs two days a week. On those days, I took it easy but made myself keep running in what felt like sweltering heat for at least ninety minutes. On those runs I was sure not only to refuel but to rehydrate and to pay attention to my micronutrient intake as well. As May's temps ratcheted up in June, I felt more comfortable running in the heat already. During the month of June I tacked on to the end of every hot run an ice bath in whatever creek or river was nearby. I also began to do a hot epsom bath after one run-ice bath combo per week.

Beginning in the end of June and early July, my body started performing really well in the heat. I still took my hardest and longest runs at higher elevations and at cooler times of the day but by that point in the summer I was running four or five days a week in temperatures exceeding 90F. After every run beginning in mid-July I did a full-body ice bath in the Chewuch River or Deer Lake.

At the end of July the Diamond Creek Fire flared up a few miles from home dumping an obscene amount of smoke into my little river valley so I began to wear a ventilator (read more on running in wildfire country). Not one to complain about challenging conditions I chose to view my ventilator as yet another cardiac challenge to my strengthening system. Through all of August I ran at least four of my runs per week in the ventilator in temperatures over 95F - and damn did some of those runs feel tough.

As the heat persisted through the first weeks of September I began to feel markedly more at ease in the triple-digits. I found myself looking forward to runs on hot days and even found myself not feeling overheated on my last hot hot run on September 14th.

Now, as the cold rolls in and the ground I now run on is covered with snow, I feel more well-adapted to running in freezing, damp temperatures, too. My body feels like it is using much less energy than in past seasons keeping me warm despite being vastly leaner this autumn versus years past. And dammit if I'm not pining for those sultry runs in the smoke with Moose.

So after four months of shirt-free, sweat-heavy, hot AF runs I'm pleased to announce: I loved it! Truly. After a lifetime of not performing well in the heat I now miss my hot 4pm runs on sun-exposed dusty trail. I'm also performing better in the cold this autumn AND feel my overall cardiac capacity increased. Now let's see how that heat training translates to high altitude movement - I'll keep you posted.


read more:

how to run in wildfire country

heat training while pregnant



Pregnant Athlete Ecourse (cohort six) now open for registration


It isn’t about pushing harder, it is about learning to listen to your body. Your innate power and wisdom might surprise you.

This e-course will provide you with the most current peer-reviewed evidence to empower you to make educated choices about your pregnant and postpartum movement, training, and self-care.

Past participants rave about how the course allowed them to build community with like-minded athletes and advance their mountain practices while gestating their babes.

Pregnancy is the greatest performance enhancement known to (wo)man <pass it on>



My tenkara story

My grampa first took me fishing on an alpine lake in Montana when I was about seven, I was enthralled watching trout rise from untold depths in perfectly clear water. My mom tried to get me into fly fishing on the Green River Gorge in Washington as a teenager, it didn't stick. It wasn't until I moved to the Methow Valley that I found tenkara and really got fishing. I self-studied allowing my interactions with water, wind, bugs, and fish to shape my technique on the tight side streams and turquoise high lakes.

Within that first season I found myself presenting flies to trout at some of the most remote gems in the Pasayten Wilderness and the Okanogan Highlands. In order to squeeze a quick fishing session in on these remote lakes, I began strapping my tenkara rod to my running backpack stashing the rare kept fish in a ziplock bag flopping in my pack on the way back home to add to my breakfast. When it came time to make a permanent home in the valley we chose a sweet cabin within a three minute walk of two stellar trout holes, allowing me to fish twice a day all summer long. No matter how many times I witness it, the rise still captivates me.

In partnership with the Okanogan National Forest and with the support of Tenkara USA, I now offer the first and only guided run-fish-run trips.



Kim Gilsdorf client interview - My Body Is My Partner

It felt like every part of me was alive.
— Kim Gilsdorf

Happy Monday, readers,

I have a beaut of an episode for you today. Last week Kim and I sat down to reflect on her skiing, climbing, running pregnancy. In our concise conversation Kim drops all kinds of inspiring wisdom and highly-relatable stories about finding her love of climbing during her third trimester, learning to listen to her body, and how she applied her experience mountaineering to the event of birth.

This empowering conversation charged my batteries and I hope you gain a charge from our conversation too.

Brittany Raven

PS: This is a picture of Kim snowshoeing on Mount Rainier when she was 41 weeks pregnant!

Topics discussed in this episode:

2:45 All about Kim's pregnancy

5:46 "My body had its own story"

7:33 What CAN you do?

10:19 "My body is my partner"

11:45 Committed productive pain (MN Note: I got stoked!)

16:20 On summoning your own power

20:45 The research Kim found useful

23:48 Postpartum power

25:45 On setting boundaries

28:17 One piece of advice for pregnant athletes

I’m running, I’m out in the woods, and I’m giving life to someone at the same time. My body is amazing.
— Kim Gilsdorf



Dismantle competition

Competition, whether in sport or business, is an artificial struggle contrived to make you believe in scarcity of love, resources, happiness, and ego-transcendence. Do not bow to the old guard; they maintain this structure to keep you in check, to limit your wild and sourceless power. By engaging in a competitive paradigm, you have bought into someone else’s vision of what your journey should constitute, you have been distracted from the point.

Comparative structures of achievement inherently divorce us from an experience of ‘with’, ‘through’, and ‘among’ by convincing us that we are ‘over’, ‘above’, and ‘against’ - this is a fallacy robbing each of us of our movements’ gnostic potential. When we compete we stop listening to our own wise voice and the voice of our shared body: the earth. If I was more concerned with someone else’s idea of how an elite athlete runs than with my own spirit’s journey in the forest, I might have missed this fresh bobcat track in the snow.

Though I prefer to do my ambulations sans people, you might choose to toss away the competitive paradigm of sport in a tight, co-creative partnership on the rope or in a pack of fellow forest freaks on the trail. The choice is yours. I challenge you to dismantle the anxious hungry ghost of comparison in your own mind today.



Run-fish-run featured by Kavu

Mixing my running practice with fishing seems so natural to me. Running makes me think like Moose; fishing makes me think like Trout. Building empathy with the natural world with whom I move is an exercise in deep listening.
— Brittany Aäe, "Run-fish-run"



Training journal entry: Divergent

the sacred Chewuch at twilight

Yesterday evening held its own tiny magick. No one was around save for a passel of chickadees, a choir of frogs, and the pair of great horned owls hooting at one another. It was quiet; it felt quiet; I walked to the river. As Joan Shelley once said: "If you know what you're going to write when you sit down, don't bother." So, too, on this walk I had not a clue why I was walking so that is why I kept moving. When I arrived at the overlook above my crystalline trout hole, instead of taking a left down the well-worn summer path to the river, I took a right down a game path studded with granite mini-boulders to a balcony in the duff with a direct view of the Pasayten up the Chewuch. Sitting there on a damp boulder I tuned in to how the air moving in one languid mass was tepid around me, how wearing yoga pants and no socks in my clogs I wasn't shivering. At once my thoughts gathered on one idea: endurance as a daily practice is the anti-epic; it is, instead, durable and divergent.



Clean up your shit



Pick up your trash. Out on a run today, which began on a remote Forest Service road, I came across over a hundred discharged pieces of ammunition in the road. I cleaned up, carrying the jingling ammo out in my running pack for a few miles.

For future target practice, we have a fantastic gun range available for use free-of-charge just outside Winthrop. It has a view of the mountains and there is rarely more than one person there at a time - the locals who use it are all friendly and helpful.

If you find you must shoot up a stump (God knows why 🤨), know the laws pertaining to discharging a firearm. It is illegal to shoot from, along, across, or down a road or trail (WAC 332-52-145). It is also illegal to litter (RCW 70.93.060), you're subject to up to a $5,000 fine if you do.

You never know when a lone runner will sneak up on your illicit target practice/littering bender and report your dumb ass to the local WDFW Enforcement Officer. I have his number in my phone. ✌🏻Be a good ambassador for the rest of the hunting community and clean up your shit. 

I am currently amidst a garbage cleanup project in the Chewuch River Drainage near my home. Follow along as I document it on my Instagram account.



Waterproof Human: running in the rain

Spring in the Methow is a shoulder season for the alpinist: the sage steppe is wet, the ice isn't in, and the pass is closed to snowmobiles. 

However, the forest is alive with movement and bursting with color this time of year: Seasonal creeks flow back to life after a winter asleep. Mud runs heartily down the trail and splatters up the legs. Raindrops make the salal dance. Worms drown in puddles.

Here are a few ideas to help you get out to play in the wetness.

Logistics: Use the wet days to build hearty strength. In your gait, focus on keeping centered over your feet. Be sure to choose a route that allows you to keep running the entire time with little if no walking or stopping. Especially if it is windy and rainy, hypothermia sets in fast. 

Wear: The chilly air might make you want to cover up, but all those layers will turn into vehicles of damp against your skin. Down to about 45F, wear as little as possible (tee and shorts). A baseball cap will keep the water from lashing your eyes. Between 45F and freezing, or if it is also windy, add thigh coverage and a shell. Don't wear GoreTex shoes (they only trap water near your feet) or jackets (unless it is windy as well as rainy). Run with just a hand bottle as most packs will absorb water turning them into heavy sponges squeezing down your butt.

So above: With the load of precipitation, boughs and brush bend to greet you. Give them a high five as you pass - and mind your head. With the first storms of the season, the winter's rot and rootless snags will fall. Beware the cracking of a falling birch or a dart-like branch plunging from above.

And below: Even a trail you know well will change considerably in the mud and saturation. Trail-shaped rivers take the place of the hard-packed snow ribbons of winter. Skirt puddles you can't see the bottom of but splash through the rest - you're not going to stay dry anyway.

Animals: Your furry mountain neighbors can't hear you or smell you coming as acutely in a  storm as on a still day. Scan the saturated earth for their sign, sniff for their dank fur smells, and watch for their little rumps up ahead. Make a bit of noise so you don't scare them. Wild animals are becoming more active this time of year.

After the run: To prevent the cold from sinking too deeply into your core (read: quads) change immediately out of your wet clothes into something layered and cozy. I reserve my synchilla pants for ONLY post-run or -climb recovery. Remember your post-run snack. Once home, try downing some hot liquid in the form of bone broth or chai tea to restore circulation and promote the healing process. For the ultimate in post-run luxury indulge in full-body contrast therapy.

Enjoy: Gulp in the dank air, savor the mist rising off a sun-heated wet leaf, watch the branches dance in the chaos of the storm. Embrace the incongruity of padding through cold puddles; cover yourself in mud. Relax into the wet and remember: humans are waterproof. 

"Did I just run or swim?" Who cares, it was fun!



Training journal entry: Solo and unsupported

Eagle + swans

When I first sat at my favorite table to work, an insincere snow squall poured through The Narrows, its evanescence belching from a nearly-cloudless sky. Again finding myself in the land of my project, I seek for this summer’s expression to bring about greater balance for me, my family, and for the people who are uplifted by my spirit-work.

So much process goes into this work, that were I an ‘end justifying the means’ kind of athlete I would have given up long ago. Perhaps that is why some of the things I have done, looming obvious in plain sight, no one has ever done before. Surely, I cannot credit this fact to sturdy limbs or ten-gallon lungs - I have proved to be quite proletariat at the human monkey tricks around which much of ‘sport’ (and how I loathe to call it that) revolves. Only when I engage the body as simply a willing vehicle of gnosis; the living, moving, always-shifting manifestation of the beauty I sense pushing up through the land and reverberating through my watery flesh; do I achieve the postures and places I set out to become.

There is no hope, nor volition, in me to ever subjugate the more-than-human with whom I move to some insecurity-placating notion of ‘conquering’ a mountain, ‘adventuring’ on a trail, or ‘finishing’ a climb. Even the goal itself falls away as a superfluous finger-pointing-at-the-moon when I am in the throes of creation, the act and beingness of no-self.

Any drive one might observe as an element of my mountain practices is simply my reverence for what it takes for me to form myself into a tool capable of a tight twirl; the positions my body takes in nature among my omniscient rock, tree, and animal friends; and the invisible path of travel that I leave behind as paint if only in my body, mind, and soul after the event for which I had trained is complete. It is not the satisfaction of having done so I do not have to do again. In fact, this year’s top summer project is to re-do something I have already done while in a style, in a physical form I find more aesthetically and ethically pleasing.

Always solo (never alone); always unsupported (never without).