Summer is a great time to maximize one’s training since there are so many hours of sunlight at our disposal. Not to mention, the weather’s great, the water’s warm, and work schedules tend to loosen up with kids being out of school. However, the opportunity to work-out hard during these summer months does not come without some real concern. Here are four scenarios / situations you need to be more aware of when training during these next few months of summer.
Heat Related Illness:
Exercising in hot weather puts all sorts of extra stress on your body. Exercise when combined with the outdoor temperature itself raises your core temperature. To help cool yourself off, your body knows to send more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. When combined with a lack of fluids and/or too much heavy sweating, a heat related illness can occur. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominal muscles. Heat exhaustion may occur involving nausea, vomiting, headaches, fainting and cold, clammy skin. Should cramping, dizziness, and/or confusion ever start to set in during a work-out, you must immediately seek to lower your body temperature.
Staying hydrated during your summer workout regimen is of paramount importance. A general rule of thumb is to drink 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise. Additionally, if you are planning on working out for over 40 minutes, it’s wise to incorporate a sports drink with salt or sugar in order to get the water absorbed into your body more quickly. Sports drinks can also replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Many people are constantly dehydrated and tend to drink only when they’re thirsty. As an athlete, you must proactively consume liquids before thirst even sets in. Tell-tale signs of dehydration include poor concentration, headache, and inability to think clearly.
Sunburn and skin damage is bound to happen with increased exposure to sunlight as one trains outdoors. The sun is especially strong during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Many doctors recommend wearing a sunscreen with at least 30 S.P.F for daily protection. Sunscreen must be reapplied after swimming and/or sweating (even the ‘water-proof’ varieties!). If one has especially fair skin, it might make more sense to cover up with a rash-guard while swimming or a light-weight long sleeve t-shirt while running for greater skin protection. It’s best to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to any activity being done outdoors.
Many people take to the road on summer vacations or at least travel to beach destinations to spend the day. If you train and live by the coast, navigating through the increased throngs of people and vehicles is vital for your safety. Summer drivers are unfamiliar with the territory, their surroundings and may have zero experience driving side by side with cyclists. You must practice defensive riding in order to avoid potential collision. Re-think riding with headphones and focus all of your attention on seeing and hearing all that’s around you. Always signal your turns and avoid the busiest of streets if possible.
Other things you might want to consider include limiting or eliminating caffeine and alcohol consumption. These are just barriers to fluid retention and/or rehydration. Additionally, avoiding the midday sun altogether might make sense from time to time. Working out indoors can be just as effective. Above all, protect yourself and drink plenty of fluids!