A break in the storms and some time on the trail

Look how green that is.

The weird weather cycles have kept me away from the trails of late. We get big storms, huge rain dumps, maybe a day of no action, and then it starts all over again. It’s been like this for a couple of months now.

It’s not that I’m shy about getting dirty. I’ve gone through plenty of mud. But a big part of me believes in giving the trails a chance to dry out before I beat them up with my boots. It’s been too long, though — too many rained-out weekends, too many tornado warnings, and too much flooding. I’ve put in enough road miles. My feet need more dirt and less pavement.

I finally caught a break this week. The rain backed off long enough for me to get out on the trails and at least hike a few miles. Man, I needed that.

All this went down around the same time another series of articles came out extolling the benefits of spending at least a couple of hours every week in nature. Not in a park, or in your yard, but in true natural settings like a forest. You don’t get the same sounds, smells and sights in man-made “natural” settings as you do in the woods.

What I noticed was the change of seasons. It’s summer now, and the forest has, indeed, moved on from spring.

Seen on the trail: things that grow.

First of all, the foliage has gone from that bright “new growth” green of spring to a more mature, deeper shade. It’s still dense — the heavy spring rains have guaranteed that. But the greens are darker, maybe even flatter, as trees, bushes and grasses maximize their ability to turn bright sunlight into sustenance.

The sounds are different, too. In the spring it was all birds, all the time. The birds are still there, but they’re quieter. Instead, you hear the bugs. The heat of summer seems to liven up the chirping, buzzing, screeching insects of the forest to the point of being loud. Summer songs of the woods are distinctly invertebrate.

Then there’s the heat and humidity. If you’re living anywhere in the Sunbelt, your attitude toward summer hiking has to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to get very sweaty, kinda smelly, and feeling a bit gross when it’s done. Maybe well before that. If you’re cool with that, you can enjoy yourself as long as you’re hydrated. If not, well, you’re going to end up waiting a good four months for the temperatures to come down.

I don’t plan on waiting. I’ll take the sweat and get my miles as long as the seemingly ceaseless train of storms doesn’t wash me out.

Summer in the woods.

Bob Doucette

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Summer is coming. Here are six tips on how to make hot weather running work for you

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Yesterday I went out for my weekly Wednesday 5-mile run. When I left the gym, it was sunny, breezy, and 90 degrees. May is sort of the unofficial start of the summer sweaty season for me, when hot showers go away and some really tough outdoor training begins. It will likely persist through mid-October where I live.

I’m not a hot-weather runner, and the last couple of miles of yesterday’s run were miserable. I’m not acclimated for the heat yet, and frankly, I wasn’t ready for it. My bad.

But hot weather training has its merits – it builds toughness and will pay off in terms of overall conditioning. Running in the heat taxes your heart and lungs in unpleasant ways, but if you do it right, it will pay off when the temperatures cool down.

That said, training in the heat does you no good if you end up getting sick or worse from heat exposure. So this Sun Belt guy has a few ideas on this subject.

So here are six tips for training in the heat:

Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day running up to your workout, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait till you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside training.

Shade your face. A ball cap will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.

If you can, pick routes with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose some of the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.

Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees or 58 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…

Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down and walk a couple of blocks. No shame in that.

And finally, and this might go without saying, pick a cooler time of day to run. This means running pre-dawn or after sunset during the summer, but those hours will be cooler and easier to manage.

This week, I did well on these except for the hydration part, and I paid for it. Guess I should follow my own advice! Enjoy your time out there.

Bob Doucette

Six hot-weather training tips for runners

This guy will make your outdoor training a little tougher in the summer. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Summer is rapidly approaching, and it’s a time when a lot of us are thinking about vacations, backyard cookouts and time at the pool.

But for the running crowd, it’s also an opportunity to take advantage of extra daylight hours to get in our miles.

One problem: The heat. Most places will begin seeing temperatures rise significantly within the next couple of weeks, and things really get cooking in July and August. Fun in the sun is great and all, but when you’re training, heat can wreck you. It can beat you and your workouts into submission, and if you’re not careful, cause serious health problems.

But if we only went out in perfect conditions, there is a good chance we’d achieve almost nothing. So my advice is to make peace with summer and learn a few things about hot-weather training to get by, at least until things cool off in the fall.

So here are six tips for training in the heat:

Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait till you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside training.

Shade your face. A ball cap will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.

If you can, pick routes with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose some of the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.

Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees or 58 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…

Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down and walk a couple of blocks. No shame in that.

And finally, and this might go without saying, pick a cooler time of day to run. This means running pre-dawn or after sunset during the summer, but those hours will be cooler and easier to manage.

So there you have it. Use these ideas during the hot months. Or succumb to the treadmill. Your choice.

Bob Doucette

Summer is coming: Six tips for training in the heat

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Don’t look now, but summer is just a little over a month away. Temperatures are already rising toward summer levels in some parts of the world. I’ve definitely noticed it on my runs, and have not acclimated yet.

Summer is a convenient time to shut it down for some people, particularly if you live in a Sunbelt state like me. It’s far easier to back off when it gets hot. But if you’re training for fall races, that’s just not possible. You’ve got to get out there and put in the work.

But higher temps hare hard on the body, and if you’re not careful bad things can happen if you push too hard. Summer will definitely push back.

So here are six tips for training in the heat:

  1. Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day running up to your workout, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait till you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside training.
  2. Shade your face. A ball cap will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.
  3. If you can, pick routes with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose some of the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.
  4. Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees or 58 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…
  5. Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down and walk a couple of blocks. No shame in that.
  6. And finally, and this might go without saying, pick a cooler time of day to run. This means running pre-dawn or after sunset during the summer, but those hours will be cooler and easier to manage.

So those are some ideas. Got any of your own? Feel free to share in the comments.

Bob Doucette

Summer is coming: Six tips for hot weather training and hiking

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

After what was a long and pretty cold winter, a bunch of us eagerly greeted the warmer temperatures of spring.

But here on the Southern Plains, it hasn’t taken long for summer to remind us of its approach. I’ve had a few runs where temperatures edged ever closer to 90 degrees. In the southwestern part of my home state, more than a few 100-degree days have been recorded.

This can make for some pretty uncomfortable hikes and downright miserable training conditions. And if you’re unprepared, high temps and strenuous activity can be dangerous.

But I also believe that training in harsh conditions can give you an extra gear of toughness that training in favorable conditions cannot.

This got me to thinking of a few things I’ve learned about training and exercising in the heat. So for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day running up to your workout or big outing, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait until you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside working hard.

2. Shade your face. A ball cap or even a wide-rimmed hat will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.

3. If you can, pick routes/places with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose some of the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.

4. Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…

5. Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down. No shame in that.

6. Take care of your skin. Got sunscreen? Use it. This is especially important on long hikes and anything near/on the water. SPF 30 or higher.

Those are a few ideas from me. What about you? Share your hot-weather training tips in the comments. I’d love to get some input.

Bob Doucette

Fitness: 5 tips for training in the heat

This guy will make your outdoor training a little tougher in the summer. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

This guy will make your outdoor training a little tougher in the summer. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

When I looked at the forecast, all I saw was “hot.”

We’ve had a pretty mild summer thus far in Oklahoma, way different from the past two years where we spent the better part of the season above 100 degrees, topping out at 114 (my hottest run was at 111). Not so much this year. Until this week.

Wednesday’s high: 102. The dog days are here, and will be for at least another 8 weeks.

From a training perspective, I look at it two ways: dread it or embrace the challenge.

I’m two weeks in to marathon training, and there is no getting away from logging more and more miles outside. I’m also a night shift worker, so those pre-dawn runs are out. That means tackling my training at, well, less than optimal times.

But I also believe that training in harsh conditions can give you an extra gear of toughness that training in favorable conditions cannot. So I planned out my post-lift run (a mere 5 miles) and looked forward to staring down the 97-degree temperature reading at the time. I will not be stopped!

The first half of the run went fine. The back half was tough. Even a little brutal. But it got done.

It did get me to thinking of a few things I’ve learned about training in the heat. So for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day running up to your workout, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait till you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside training.

2. Shade your face. A ball cap will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.

3. If you can, pick routes with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.

4. Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…

5. Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down and walk a couple of blocks. No shame in that.

Those are a few ideas from me. What about you? Share your hot-weather training tips in the comments. I’d love to get some input.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088