Friday, April 18, 2014

The Heat is On!

Old man winter was especially ornery this year and not only did he overstay his welcome; he didn’t let spring show up early and surprise us with comfortably nice weather.  Now that winter has finally taken the red eye back to wonderland, I am afraid spring will be short lived which only means one thing, an early, hot and humid summer!
I can hear the collective groans now, “Hey, that’s not fair!  Winter was cold and I am now just getting back to running or riding my bike and I’m not ready to stop my outdoor exercise before the heat of summer invades us like an army of ants on a dripping ice cream cone!”
That’s a fair question but the warm and humid temperatures of summer don’t have to spell the end of your outdoor exercise and activities. In fact, summer workouts can help you build a very strong base that places you in great position to really drive aerobic benefits from your fall and winter workouts and races.
Some of the advantages to running or cycling workouts in the summer include building a strong base for the fall upon which you can add speed work, improving your ability to work under stress and helping to increase your metabolism.
While cycling or running in particular in the heat of a South Carolina summer can be demanding and akin to running through pea soup covered in a drenched wool blanket, you can enjoy the benefits of a good aerobic workout by following these strategies.
Look to run during the coolest part of the day. I have found that the temperatures are the coolest just prior to sunrise. It’s often calm and cool and you get to enjoy one of nature’s often overlooked wonders in a beautiful sunrise.
If getting five miles in before the rooster crows is not for you, you can run during the day. First be sure to be well hydrated before you head out to run or bike and be sure to take plenty of water with you and start drinking every ten minutes. I recommend a hydration pack you wear on your back as these are easier to manage. If you will be gone longer than an hour and sweat profusely, add in some diluted sports drink as well.
Always be sure to wear a cap to keep the sun off your head and sun cooling sleeves (like basketball players use only designed to keep you cool) can keep your arms cool and out of direct sun light.
While this may be the toughest for most people, running and cycling in the heat is taxing to your bodily systems.  I strongly recommend you slow your pace and enjoy your activity. This will ease the stress on your heart and cooling system and will allow you to add more miles and longer durations. A good sports watch with a heart rate monitor can help you keep your heart rate and pace at comfortable levels.
For those that run longer than an hour and sweat profusely, salt stix (salt capsules) can help prevent cramping.

The heat of summer does not have to spell the end of your outdoor training, you just need to plan and be strategic and safe in your endeavors. 
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

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