Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To Gym or Not to Gym?: Outdoor Workout Tips

It is sweltering in DC. The temperature itself is bad, high 80's to mid 90's, but mostly the issue is the humidity. DC is built on a swamp - moving around outside right now is like slow motion swimming through liquid goo. It's gross. I generally don't need a gym membership in the winter. Being from Michigan, I'm pretty used to the cold, snow, and ice. I bundle up in good warm gear and get myself outside, but heat kills me. 

As soon as it gets upwards of 75, running outside becomes a struggle. Summer here means a gym membership. That means dropping cash. I got a great deal at Washington Sports Club this summer, with two months free, but I've had to pay for July (if you do join a gym make sure you are taking advantage of every possible promotion). I'm debating whether or not to keep the membership next month, because I've been working on ways to beat the heat and save the cash. Here are some tips I've found helpful; please share any you have with me! 

Tips For Working Out in the Outdoor Heat:

1. Get out early. It's easy to say, and harder to do. I like to set my alarm 45 minutes before I go and wake up with a cup of coffee and the news. The coffee will give you energy, and the extra time will loosen your joints before you head out. Set out clothes the night before and get dressed first thing. Evening is always nice for a run, but it can be harder to force yourself to get out the door after a long day at work. 

2. Hydrate before your workout. This is easiest if you stay hydrated generally. I like to keep a big glass of water by my bed to drink first thing when I wake up. Keep a water bottle with you at work. Drink up. 

3. Take water on your workout. This helps so much in the heat. I use a water belt for long workouts, or for short workouts I'll simply carry a water bottle. I'll also toss it over my head if I get too hot. 

4. Electrolytes. Preferably during and after your workout, but at least after. When you run outside and sweat a lot, you are losing vital nutrients, especially sodium. Putting only plain water back in your system can lead to dizziness and a host of other nasty things. I personally don't love Gatorade, it's full of sugar and calories I just don't need. Nuun is a great alternative. It puts all the good stuff back in your body without any unnecessary refined sugar. Simply drop a tablet in 16 ounces of water (I prefer the grape or lemon tea flavor). 

5. Sunscreen. I end up with a runner's tan every summer. I don't mind a little extra color, but I don't want to damage my skin. Use a good quality sport sunscreen - one that's sweat-proof. Be careful of spray sunscreen, make sure you're rubbing it in if you do choose to use it. I got a nasty burn this past weekend because I missed some spots with a spray sunscreen. 

6. Clouds are your friend. Workouts in the sun are great, when it's 70 out. When it gets really hot, the sun makes it feel that much hotter. I find that I can handle higher temperatures when its cloudy. It's a nice bonus if it starts to sprinkle or rain. 

7. If you can, exercise near water. You live in Chicago? Use the Lake Trail. DC? I like Rock Creek Park along the Potomac. Water means a breeze. Take advantage. 

8. Take it slow. I slow down my pace in the outdoor heat. I usually run about a 8:30 to 9 minute mile. In the heat I slow down to what feels natural. It lets me finish the same distance I'd do in cooler weather without overheating.  

9. Wear appropriate gear for the weather. Sweat wicking workout clothes will keep you cooler, cotton will trap sweat and make you hotter. I personally prefer a sports bra and shorts, but if you don't feel comfortable, get yourself some sweat wicking tanks. Target carries some for reasonable prices. 

1o. Carry a credit card or cash with you. If you do get too hot you can always stop for water or a sports drink. It also gives you the option of calling a cab or taking public transportation home. Also know that shops are generally happy to give you water. I've definitely stumbled into a Starbucks dripping sweat more than once. 

11. Know your limits. If you are really suffering, STOP! Don't give yourself heat stroke! If you can't run 3 miles on a treadmill, it's probably not a good idea to start with a 5K run in 90 degree heat. 

Do you guys have any good tips for avoiding a gym fee? I'd love to hear them! 

No comments:

Post a Comment