Working towards Fatigue Resistance

The fittest sled dogs are actually able to repair themselves as the Iditarod race goes on.

“You take dogs out and you run them 100 miles per day today and tomorrow and the next day, and they come back, sleep, eat, do it again without having any outward sign of it mattering,” Veternarian Mike Davis explains. “You would assume they’re achieving homeostasis,” a condition of optimal operation. “You’d never think that they’re at the furthest thing from homeostasis. They’re damaging tissues, depleting energy stores, their oxidative stress is through the roof, and all those things are supposed to make you crater.” Yet the dogs don’t crater. “What they showed us is that there is an ability to adapt to that stress in a matter of days so that it is no longer stressful,” Davis says.

Davis has seen signs that even the gastric-ulcer damage appears to be under repair by the end of a marathon race. Most important, though, the dogs rebuild their glycogen stores. It’s likely that they manage this miracle by literally switching much of the fuel they use from glucose to fat. No cell burnout, no lactic-acid buildup, no long-term depletion of stored glycogen

DARPA funded research into the endurance of sled dogs. Stanford researchers have developed a cooling device, now marketed by a company called Avacore Technologies, that lets athletes and soldiers cool their core body temperature the way dogs do. It’s being used by college football teams at Stanford and Miami and by the San Francisco 49ers. Lance Armstrong has been drinking a sports supplement based on quercetin, a plant-based flavonoid that’s supposed to increase production of mitochondria.

Joe Bielitzki (ran DARPA enhancement program) considers it likely there will be a pill, maybe in about a decade, that will allow people to do what sled dogs do. “That was the intent,” he says. “That is still the hope.”

6 pound Avacore cooling device. If you are training to the point of heat exhaustion then the Avacore device can let train longer and harder. When you stick your hand in it, you touch a metal plate cooled by a water bath. The device also creates low air pressure, which helps bring more warm blood to the palms, which then are cooled by the plate.


When heat is a limiting factor in performance, CoreControl will increase the length of time that an individual can work out or compete. During burst/rest cycle exercise (eg. weight lifting, football, sprints, ice hockey, baseball), cooling between sets will reduce fatigue. Two minutes of cooling between sets of activity is sufficient to provide a performance benefit.

Use of CoreControl after a workout or competition can improve recovery. A 5 to 10 minute application of CoreControl can enhance the energy level for the rest of the day and facilitate performance in the next session of activity.

When cramping occurs, the use of CoreControl for 3 to 5 minutes, along with the usual treatments of water and electrolytes, can be extremely effective for stopping cramps

Grahn and his research partner, biologist Craig Heller, started working on the Glove at Stanford in the late 1990s as part of their research on improving physical performance. Even they were astounded at how well it seemed to work.

* Vinh Cao had a pre-cooling glove baseline could do 100 pull-ups every time he worked out.
* He started using the cooling glove and within six weeks, Cao was doing 180 pull-ups a session.
* After a total of 12 weeks (6 weeks after the 180 pull ups), he went from 180 to more than 600.

The Avacore cooling device costs $3000

Other Cooling Devices

Some devices are simply too small to make a difference. If a device is too cold it can actually constrict blood vessels near it—hampering the body’s natural cooling mechanisms

Personal cooling devices include a range of items designed to bring down core body temperature either during exercise or prior to it, which is called pre-cooling. They are typically filled with ice water, or a cooling gel, and must be placed in the freezer before use. They include vests, such as the $189 Arctic Heat sold by Cool Down Fire Up LLC of Westwood, N.J., neck coolers, bonnets and cold strips for anywhere on your body. New to the market is a compact-size strap-on gel pack for your palm called the Bex Runner, which sells for $50 from Cool Palms LLC $16 online. Depending on how hot it is, the devices can stay cool for 30 minutes to an hour or two.

The BEX Runner is a 3oz, durable, reusable cool-gel-pack that form fits to the palm of the hand; it is the most cost-effective reusable body cooling device on the market. One tip on using the BEX Runner for longer workouts – is to run cold water on the fabric after the gel has thawed out.

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