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Training Outdoors – 8 Practical Tips to Train Safe

Training outdoors provides an excellent calorie kill.

Training Outdoors Offers a Huge Variety

Summer time is finally here, and above the 49th parallel, this means you can finally get outside to do a multitude of warm weather activities.  However, this also means you need to take precautions for some of the obstacles that could come your way.  Training outdoors offers a huge variety of exciting activities where you can incorporate strength training, functional fitness and a plethora of balance exercises. Training outdoors also provides an excellent calorie kill that comes with the mix of continuous exercise interlaced with high-intensity intervals in activities like hiking or biking up the side of a mountain.

Outdoor training is an amazing way to get in touch with the natural elements around us. Training outdoors gets us out into the fresh air. Contrary to what some people may believe, indoor air pollution, the degradation of indoor air quality by harmful chemicals and other materials can be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution. Natural light from outdoors also provides much needed Vitamin D which we are deprived of through the long winter months. Vitamin D helps improve sleep and improves mood. Due to the uneven terrain, training outdoors is amazing in helping with balance and reaction time.

Make Sure you are Prepared and Know Your Route

Before you step out the door, it is imperative to make sure you plan your route. Leave a map of the route you are travelling with someone you trust in case you get into trouble. Let people know what time you are leaving and what time you will be returning.

Factor in safety concerns and be sure to prepare for them, check the weather in the area you are going so you don’t get stuck in a storm or torrential downpour.  During late spring or early summer, many people get trapped in storms or snow when they least expect it.

Here are several other training outdoors suggestions to follow which will ensure safe, successful and fun workouts.

  1. Dehydration is always a serious factor when training in the summer sun. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the entire day. Drink plenty of water all day. Make sure you always take water with you and sip on it every 15 to 20 minutes, drinking 4 to 8 ounces each time, whenever the heat is intense. Staying hydrated will help prevent some of the symptoms you may experience from exercising in heat such as dizziness, stomach cramps, and headaches. Plain water is good for short workouts, but for exercise lasting longer than an hour, you also need to replenish your carbohydrates and electrolytes; coconut water is excellent for this.
  2. Many people who love training outdoors don’t take the time and money to invest in proper work out gear. Quality clothing and equipment make the task of working out much more enjoyable. Most fitness clothing companies have some form of wicking clothes which are lightweight and pull moisture away from your skin. The wicking clothing will leave you feeling drier and cooler. Make sure you invest in a quality hat to keep the sun off of your head and out of your face.
  3. Make sure you use a high quality sunscreen that won’t sweat off and offers a SPF of 30. Look for the added benefits of zinc oxide, if your skin is particularly susceptible to getting burnt. Make sure you apply the lotion approximately 30 minutes before you go out into the sun and bring the bottle with you so you can re-apply more later on.
  4. Get up early and train before the sun is high and the UV rays are most intense. Weather is a factor when training in the summer. In the event you don’t have the ability to train in the morning or later that evening, try to pick a day where it is overcast or raining lightly to do long runs. Use caution when training outdoors in the rain; check weather reports as you don’t want to end up in a torrential downpour.
  5. In the event that one sunny, scorching day runs into the next, then cool down before you heat up. Prior to going out into the sun, take a cold shower to help regulate your body temperature. Pour water over your head as you go or have some fun and run through some water park while you are out!
  6. Another way to combat the heat on scorching days is to choose activities that won’t heat you up as much. Hot days are a perfect time to choose swimming or head out into the woods for some trail running or riding. The forest cover will keep you cool with all the shade from the trees, and it will also give you time to reconnect with nature. Make sure you are on safe trails and it is always best to take a training buddy along with you in case you need help. If you are in bear or cougar country, it is always best to take a bell and bear spray with you in case you accidentally run into any forest creatures that don’t run away from you!
  7. You can also change up your training FIITs (frequency, intensity, time or type). Instead of doing one long training session, split-up your training into shorter more frequent work outs. You could do 20 – 30 minutes of cardio in the morning and 20 – 30 minutes of weight training in the evening. This way you can do your training in the cooler part of the day and still get in resistance and cardiovascular training. On sweltering days you could also reduce your intensity and work on more continuous aerobic exercise rather than intervals. Make sure you take lots of breaks and again drink plenty of water.
  8. When all else fails and the heat is blowing the tops of the thermometers, it’s time to go inside. You could use this time to head into a nice cool Yoga or Pilate’s studio to work on flexibility. Take some Martial Arts classes so you can work at high intensity levels in the safety of a cool indoor facility. Get a gym membership at a nice air-conditioned club or community centre. Try to find a facility with a pool so you can “kill two birds with one stone” as the old saying goes. Hire a personal trainer in the club and have him/her build you an amazing indoor workout program.

Visit the Infofit Bookstore for some great books on training outdoors!

Get out there and play! Happy Training!

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL