Bloggers and seasoned runners Millie Minton and Kathleen Bush have teamed up to offer tips on how to run outdoors safely during the hot summer months.
Ahhhh, summer. The extended daylight hours beckon runners onto the open roads, but soaring heat and humidity can take their toll on your running mojo.
Here are 6 tips to beat the heat while running this summer.
1. Run Prepared
Summer running might mean you’ll require fewer articles of clothing, but don’t skimp on gearing up. Apply non-drip sunscreen to protect your skin before you head out. Grab a pair of sport sunglasses with nose grips to help with sun glare and to give you a better view of oncoming motorists.
When going on long trail runs on runs in less populated areas, always make sure to tell someone your route and when to expect you back, or run with a cell phone. Stash some cash in case you become overheated and need to stop for a drink or to use for cab fare home.
2. Run Early or Run Late
Experienced runners like to say that the best time to run is when your shadow is longer than you are. In other words, avoid running between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s intensity is at its greatest. If you suffer from respiratory problems, remember that air quality is usually better in the morning than it is later in the day. Plus, early morning runs mean fewer cars and less traffic noise.
If you must run when the sun is up, pick a shady course. Think tree-lined streets over winding country roads. And if you’re running at night, remember your reflective vest.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
If you’re running in the heat for more than a couple miles, you will need hydration mid-run. Invest in a hydration pack (found at any running shop), or drive your route in advance and strategically hide partially frozen water bottles along the way (don’t forget to drive back to collect them when you’re done!).
You could also plan a one or two mile route around a focal point, such as your home or Midtown. Run laps of this same route, stopping for a drink each time you pass. Having extra water to pour on your head and neck is a huge psychological bonus, so don’t be afraid to run through a sprinkler when passing!
One of the worst things you can do to your body is dehydrate it. When you overheat, your recovery time will be much longer as your body will need time to heal.
4. Dress for Success
Your old cotton tshirt isn’t the best choice for running in the heat. Technical fibers will move moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Many of the newer fabrics also have the bonus of built-in UV protection. Don’t underestimate the importance of moisture-wicking socks, either. Keeping your feet cool and dry will prevent blisters.
5. Remember Your Electrolytes
On long runs in the heat, you need to remember your important friends: sodium and potassium. These and other electrolytes keep your digestive, nervous, cardiac, and muscular systems functioning properly. The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you’ll lose. If you’re running long, consider refueling with sports drinks such as Gatorade or Accelerade during the run, and post-run as well. Recent research, however, suggests that sports drinks, which are often high in sugar, might not be the best post-workout drink, so you might opt for milk, coconut water, or a piece of fruit to replenish electrolytes.
6. Know the Warning Signs
Don’t try to be a superhero. There is a clear line between proving mental toughness and putting your health in jeopardy, and unfortunately many runners allow themselves to cross it. You are not weak for rescheduling a run on a hot day or for stopping early; rather, you are smart.
Don’t expect your pace to be the same as you manage on brisk, mild days. Watch for symptoms of heat disease: intense heat build up, headache, nausea, clammy skim, muscle cramps, and feeling faint. If any of these symptoms strike, stop immediately and head for a drink in the shade.
Enjoy the summer weather and the myriad psychological and physical benefits of running outdoors. Stay safe, smart, and cool and you’ll reap the benefits of running all year long.
Do you experience muscle or joint stiffness, soreness, pain, and/or injury that prevent you from functioning at your best? Have you accepted pain as a “part of life,” and given up hope that it can improve? If you’ve tried Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), you know that pain doesn’t have to be permanent!
We sat down with Midtown’s Certified MAT Specialist Ron Greenberg to discuss what MAT is and how it can help just about everybody. Here is what we learned:
Question: What is MAT?
Ron: MAT is a systematic approach designed to evaluate and treat muscular imbalances that cause restrictions in motion, joint instability, and muscular tightness and weakness. MAT jumpstarts the muscles to get them working the way they were intended to work.
Question: What led you to become a Certified MAT Specialist?
Ron: I began my career in personal training in 1993 and eventually became a Performance Enhancement Specialist to work with athletes. Over time, I observed my clients enduring more muscle and joint problems as the intensity of their training increased. The regular treatments, such as icing and stretching, weren’t working. It became clear that we were treating the symptoms (pain and muscle tightness) and not the actual problem of muscle inhibition. I decided to become certified in MAT, so that I could treat the underlying problems and get my clients back on track.
Question: Does everyone have muscle imbalances?
Ron: Just about everyone. Imbalances show up in the form of tightness and/or weakness, which are often caused by postural problems (e.g. hunching over a desk all day), or repetitive activities (e.g. running). Tightness is the muscle’s response to protect a positional weakness. In other words, muscles shut down and get tight because they are overworked to a point where they can no longer function properly. MAT restarts those muscles, which not only restores movement, but also addresses the weakness that caused the pain and decreased range of motion in the first place.
Question: Shouldn’t strength training help prevent or correct muscle imbalances?
Ron: Not necessarily. Unless your exercise history is flawless (no injuries, balanced and correct training protocol, etc.), strength training will most likely cause your strong muscles to get stronger and overcompensate, which leads to your weak muscles becoming weaker.
Question: How can someone get started with MAT?
Ron: I am available for appointments on Monday and Wednesday evenings. We would begin by discussing your health history, followed by an initial evaluation and determination of a treatment plan that fits your schedule and budget. Having a MAT evaluation can certainly benefit everyone. Even if you aren’t in pain now, your performance may be suffering in ways that will lead to injury in the future. Too many people spend their lives in and out of pain and physical limitation that can and should be prevented.
Thanks, Ron, for your insight on MAT!
For more information, or to schedule and appointment, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boot camps are a popular trend in the fitness world. Participants expect to be pushed to their physical limits to achieve results fast. This is certainly an enticing proposition, but may also be somewhat intimidating.
Is Boot Camp appropriate for all fitness levels? What does Boot Camp offer that other fitness classes and programs do not?
I sat down with Personal Trainer Kelly O’Brien to learn more about what Midtown’s Boot Camp is all about.
Kristen: What is Boot Camp?
Kelly: Boot Camp is a small group training class that allows participants to get semi-private training at an economical price. Each session is designed using the principles of interval training to burn more calories.
Kristen: What is the advantage of interval training?
Kelly: Interval training consists of periods of higher intensity exercise, which increase the heart rate, followed by periods of lower intensity exercise to allow for recovery and the ability to accomplish more high-intensity work overall. Interval training has been shown to increase cardio-respiratory fitness and burn more calories in shorter periods of time.
Question: What happens in a typical class?
Kelly: It’s hard to talk about what is “typical” because we mix it up all the time! Weather permitting, we usually go to the track and field area at Concordia University (about a 5 minute walk from Midtown). We run, do squats, lunges, pushups, sprints, jump rope, run bleachers, and sometimes finish up back inside the club with TRX. The variety in the class is a big benefit because it constantly pushes the body to adapt to new challenges.
Kristen:That sounds pretty intense. Can anyone take this class?
Kelly: Anyone can do Boot Camp. We modify or change exercises to obtain the most appropriate challenge for all fitness levels. Safety is our number one priority, followed by effectiveness and fun! That said, all members are welcome to check it out. Better yet, bring a friend, so you don’t have to “feel the burn” alone!
Kristen: How big is the class, and when do you meet?
Kelly: We currently have 3-5 participants per class, which allows me to give participants more personal attention. The class meets Monday evenings at 7PM and Saturday mornings at 8:30AM for fifty minutes to an hour.
Kristen: What is the cost of the class, and how can I sign up?
Kelly: A four-week session costs $136 or $34 per class. The next session will begin the week of October 10th. Participants can register for one or two classes per week. Registration forms are at the front desk.
Kristen: So, does it really work?
Kelly: Participants have told me they feel stronger and that exercise is getting easier. Here’s one I remember, “After starting my boot camp workouts with Kelly, I feel more in shape than I have felt in a long time. In fact, I think it has made my other cardio workouts much easier.”– Vicki Custardo-Koch.
Kristen: Why do you enjoy leading Boot Camp?
Kelly: I love teaching the class mostly because I enjoy the people. I love challenging them and showing them that they can do more than they thought they could. I am so passionate about exercise, and I really like to share my knowledge with others.
Don’t miss your chance to take your workouts to a whole new level! What fitness goal are you working to accomplish this fall? Do you think Boot Camp can help you get there?
My earliest experiences with running were unremarkable at best, and emotionally and physically painful at worst. I was the kid who finished dead last in the mile race in 5th grade gym class. After being cut from the volleyball team in middle school, I tried cross country and hated every minute of it until I quit.
As far as I was concerned, the sport of “running” could eat my dust.
I stayed active through high school and college, playing other sports and trying a variety of fitness workouts. They were okay, but none of them really got my blood pumping the way I wanted them too. Was working out really just about being fit, looking good, or doing what you are “supposed to do?” Or, was it possible to enjoy the journey along with the destination? If I was going to continue working out for the rest of my life, I was hoping the answer to the latter question was yes.
On the morning of my most dreaded college final in my junior year, I gave running another chance. Actually, it was more of a last ditch effort to overcome the effects of all-nighters and a stomach full of vicious butterflies. If there was anything that could take my mind off of the exam, it was the pain that would come from running.
So at 5AM, I walked to the recreation center, up the stairs to the indoor track, and I ran. For about 9 minutes. My calves and lungs burned, and I felt utterly exhausted. But somehow, I was calmer too. It was the first time I felt like running could offer release instead of tension, and it was that realization that led me to go back out again and again. Granted, it also helped when I learned about and corrected the running form errors that were causing my calves to feel like they had knives sticking in them. But the point is, running got easier and became a lot of fun.
Later that spring, I registered for my first 5K race. I never thought I could finish 3.1 miles running the whole way, and I almost didn’t. It was hot, humid, and I still ended up with a cramp in my side, but when I crossed that finish line, I was hooked. Running had become my “thing.” It was what I wanted to do when I was stressed, tired, bored, happy, or peaceful.
Running was something I could do, just me, for me, anytime, anywhere.
Running isn’t about how fast, far, or where you go, or how cool or crazy you look getting there. For me, running is about crossing the first finish line and looking immediately toward your next one. I call myself a runner because I’m going somewhere. Away from a stressful situation, towards a goal, or just down the street to enjoy some fresh air. This is one journey that I hope lasts a long time.
Are you ready to lace up your shoes and run? This fall, Midtown is offering an 8-week “Run Your First 5K” program to help beginning runners train for the Frank Lloyd Wright Races 5K/10K in Oak Park on October 23, 2011.
Kristen Schumacher est la directrice médias sociaux de Midtown Oak Park et une entraîneuse personnelle. Lorsqu’elle ne s’entraîne pas pour sa prochaine course de fond, elle aime cuisiner, chanter et passer du temps avec sa famille et ses amis.
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