“If you can run six miles on a summer day, then you, my friend, are a lethal weapon in the animal kingdom.”- Christopher McDougall
We’re entering the dog days of summer that feature hot, sultry weather and lots of sunshine. We all want to get out and enjoy the long days of summer fun, but outdoor activities carry some risk if you’re not prepared to handle the heat. Sometimes you break a sweat just getting ready to go outside! Whether you’re going running, hiking, kayaking, swimming or cycling, when working out in hot, humid weather, you have to be especially cautious to avoid heat-related illnesses. These include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Follow these tips to make sure you’re working out safely.
Drink plenty of water the day before, and during, your outdoor activity. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’re already dehydrated and you won’t be able to catch up. Your body sweats to regulate its temperature, so you need to replace the fluid you’re losing in order to make sure this system works properly. A general guideline is to try to drink 1 oz of water per pound of body weight. Also, stick to plain water and avoid sugary sports drinks, soda and juice. Unless you’re at an athlete who is working out for an extended amount of time or at very high intensity, you most likely don’t need the extra calories, and too much sugar will just make your more thirsty.
2. Avoid the hottest part of the day.
Don’t plan your run for high noon. If possible, get your workout done early in the morning or after sunset. Midday sun will wear you down quicker than you might expect. If you know you’re going to be out all day, reapply sunscreen throughout the day, wear a hat and seek refuge in the shade whenever possible.
3. Wear light clothing.
Your body doesn’t need help sweating any more than it already will be. Don’t wear long, heavy clothes to “get your sweat on.” Wear loose, light-colored clothing to reflect some sun, and moisture-wicking fabric to help the sweat evaporate off your skin and clothes faster to keep you cooler and prevent chafing.
4. Plan your nutrition.
If you know you’re going to be outside all day on a long hike or race, make sure you fuel up properly beforehand and bring additional supplies. In addition to water, pack snacks that are easy for your body to digest and keep you going. Fruit purees, energy gels, and shakes are good options. Avoid anything too dry and high in fiber (protein bars, crackers) that requires your body to use more water to digest. Salt tablets or even mustard packets are also good to have on hand to replace the sodium your body is sweating out, which helps prevent muscle cramps.
5. Know when to call it a day.
Be able to recognize the signs that your body is overheating and take action before you become ill. Symptoms of heat-related illness include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably inside in air conditioning, re-hydrate, remove any tight or unnecessary clothing, and take a cool shower or apply cool towels. If these methods fails to alleviate symptoms, seek medical attention.
Let’s get out there and get training! The Franklin Lakes Scenic Half Marathon and 5K is coming up just around the corner on September 25th! Are you ready?
By: Tracy L. Nieradka