The heat is on for Leeds athlete

Susan Partridge, a PhD student at the University of Leeds has been chosen to represent Great Britain in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships, Daegu, Korea.

Susan does some of her training in the environment chamber, in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, a key facility helping athletes acclimatise ahead of competitive races.  She says: "I am very lucky to have access to the excellent facilities at the University of Leeds for heat acclimatisation and I have used them on a couple of occasions to prepare for major championships in hot climates.

"In the chamber we are able to adjust the heat and humidity to replicate the predicted conditions at the World Championships in Korea. This helps my body adapt to these conditions to prevent me from overheating during the race and ultimately performing badly or not finishing at all! This is very important for the marathon as the potential to overheat is significant."

During training the heat chamber is set at 31°C with 70% relative humidity. Dr Mark Hetherington, visiting Senior Research Fellow, to the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences, monitors Susan's heart rate, core temperature, fluid intake and sweat rate while she is training inside the chamber. Mark has lots of experience helping international athletes to acclimatise and prepare for tough conditions and has also worked with former Leeds Sports Science graduate Alistair Brownlee.

Susan says: "Mark's advice on exercise intensity and duration while in the chamber is invaluable. Without these facilities at Leeds University I would have to travel further afield in order to carry out heat acclimatisation, which would be difficult for me to fit around work and training."

Susan fits in her training sessions in before or after work. Susan says: "The Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE) at the School of Mechanical Engineering has been extremely supportive. They have been flexible to ensure that I can fit in all of the required heat acclimatisation and training sessions. I am very grateful for their support as it allows me to pursue my athletics career without giving up a career in research. Our motto at the Institute is "50 active years after 50" so it is fitting that they would support an active lifestyle, although I don't think the plan is to have people running marathons when they're 100."

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