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Tuesday, August 1

August : Act Wisely

So far, you’ve worked hard to make healthy changes…and you should be proud of yourself for sticking with them!  As you continue eating smartly and exercising, take into consideration the extreme temperatures that summer brings. 

This month, we’re focusing on maintaining healthy habits, but tweaking them to accommodate your body’s temperature-based needs.  Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned runner, the heat of summer and cold of winter can both be dangerous.   Plan ahead, and always have an emergency plan in place.  

Hot Weather Tips
  • Plan ahead.
    • Do your runs in the early morning or evening, not at peak sun hours. Take advantage of the extra daylight.  Make sure to look out for heat advisories and warnings. Rearrange your training schedule if the day is unusually hot or humid. Check the weather early in the week and adjust your runs accordingly.
  • Invest in climate-controlled clothing.
    • Wear light clothing and sports shirts that repel moisture.  Compression socks actually help cool the body since they keep the blood flowing well...but wear the white ones.  Running caps help to cool the body while providing sun protection.
  • Monitor your water intake.
    • Drink at least 8 oz. of water every one to two hours on your run. Wear a hydration pack or fuel belt that allows you to carry water. Plan your routes around water fountains or stores where you can refill your water mid-run.  Hydrate BEFORE heading out.  Monitor your pee, too....light pee = good, dark pee = not good.  Another trick is to weigh yourself before you go run, and then weigh yourself when you get back.  Every half pound lost should equate to one glass of water.  Drink up!
    • Make sure you're replacing your electrolytes, too.
  • Take your run inside.
    • Seriously - would you complain about running on a treadmill during a blizzard?  It may be beautiful outside, but it's just as dangerous to your core temperature.  It's a short-term fix that will bridge your workouts during extreme weather days.
  • Acclimate yourself.
    • As the hot weather approaches, take caution with your runs. Work yourself up to long runs as you get used to the heat.  Don't switch to tank tops as soon as it hits 70 degrees....wait a bit, because you're going to need those tank tops on the 100+ days.
  • Map out a new route or a new time.
    • Get up and get your long run done before (or as) the sun comes up.  This give you plenty of time to get in the miles at the coolest part of the day.  Change up your route so that you are in wooded areas or places with more shade.
  • Block the sun.
    • Make sure to liberally apply sunscreen and wear a hat or visor. This will block the sun from hitting your face directly.  You might also wear UV protection clothing.  I recommend a visor, since this will still allow the heat to escape from your head.

Cold-Weather Tips
  • Get Motivated – Enter a race.  Make a running date.  Tell yourself “just five more minutes.”  Find a tree, and pick it off.  Find what motivates you.
  • Arm Your Feet – Try to find shoes with Gore-Tex uppers, or at least very little mesh.  Wear socks that keep you warm, but not sweaty.  You can’t run on popsicles.
  • Get Dressed – Dress in layers of sweat-wicking fabric.  Here is a general guide :
    • 30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).
    • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
    • 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket.
    • Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
    • Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, says Arribas, "Stay inside."
  • Be Seen – It stays darker and gloomier, generally, in the winter.  Snowbanks may make it hard for drivers to see you.  So wear reflective, neon-colored clothing, and light yourself up (if it’s dark)!
  • Warm up Pre-run – Jump around inside the house before heading out.  Get the blood moving, and don’t start out cold.  You wouldn’t turn on your car and hit the highway without letting it warm up, would you?
  • Deal with Wind – Start your run into the wind, if possible, and finish with it hitting your back.  You don’t want a face-freeze when you’re sweaty, and maybe the gusts will give a little extra push!
  • Change Quickly Post-run – Strip down and get out of damp clothes as soon as you return.  Then drink something hot to warm you slowly.
  • Let the Cold Work for You
  • Turn up Your Warm-up  Stay in constant motion.  Start with a 
  • jog that accelerates to tempo pace for the last two minutes, then continue with dynamic stretches and drills like high knees, butt kicks, and skipping.  Finish up with four to six strides, and jog the recovery.
  • Ease Into Speed  Even after a vigorous warmup, your muscles will be cooler than usual, which raises your injury risk. Start with a tempo run of 10 to 20 minutes, or several long intervals of 5:00 or more, and gradually transition to shorter, faster repeats.  Save all-out efforts for last, when your body temp is highest.
  • Think Effort, Not Pace  Knowing your pace can be demoralizing, thanks to slippery footing and/or your seven layers of clothing; so lose the watch, and focus on your effort.
  • Recover Actively  Alternating periods of all-out running with complete rest causes big swings in heat production. Keep the hot/freezing effect to a minimum with gradual shifts between easy jogging, moderate running, and hard running.
  • Head Uphill  Winter training demands flexibility. Postpone or move up workouts as Mother Nature dictates. And when deep snow makes sessions like long intervals impossible, run hills to mimic the intensity. Run up, jog down, and repeat. Focus on maintaining good form, springing forward with each stride.

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