Summer is getting geared up and while it may not feel it where you are, many parts of the country have already crossed over the 100 degrees. Unfortunately when summer gears up is when many people either start their training forn the 3-Day for the Cure or get into the really long mileage training walks. This can be a really dangerous time of year to train unless you follow a couple of common sense guidelines. While they are common sense, I am going to go through them here just in case there is something that you have overlooked.
This really goes for any walk that you go on, but is especially important when the weather gets hotter. This post aims to help in that planning. One of the best things you can do to help you with planning is to make yourself a check list and to keep updating it as time goes on. You may think you have a great check list and then go out on a walk and remember that you need to bring along chap stick. If you don’t update your check list then you may keep having that aha moment, but it won’t be a good thing.
This should be the most common sense piece of advice. Whenever you walk you have to keep hydrated. When it is hot you really have to make sure that you keep drinking water and Gatorade and keep the fluids coming. You may be reading this and thinking that it’s kind of silly for me to talk about this, but every year at the 3-Day, someone passes out from dehydration (okay, maybe I don’t have exact facts on that, but I know it has happened) so it wouldn’t surprise me if people have the same issues on training walks.
The best way to keep hydrated is to be familiar with your hydration system. Whether you are doing a camelbak or bottles or something different, just make sure you are familiar with how much you need to drink (I have found it’s a little harder to monitor with Camelbaks, but it’s also easier to keep hydrating with them, so it’s a tradeoff.) Part of knowing if you are drinking enough is whether you are peeing enough. You should be needing a bathroom break every 3-6 miles. If you are not doing that, you probably need to drink more.
This part really goes back to the planning part of your training walks. If you know that you are doing a 15 mile training walk then you also should know that you shouldn’t start at 10 in the morning on a day that is supposed to get to 100 degrees.
People always ask me how long it takes to walk X miles. My answer is usually it depends. It depends on how fast you are walking, how frequently you take breaks and how long they are, how many people you are walking with and a variety of other factors. For planning I can usually rely on 3 miles per hour. I typically walk faster that, but when I factor in breaks and other things, it usually is about that pace. So, for doing a 15 mile walk I can be pretty assure that I will take about 5 hours. Starting at 10 means that I would definitely be walking through the hottest part of the day.
Another thing about timing, and the folks at the 3-Day will also say this: you don’t actually have to do all the hours together. If you aren’t a morning person you could do part in the morning and part in the evening (thus giving yourself a little bit more sleep in the morning). I personally like having the walking over so even though I am not a morning person I will push through in order to get it done.
If you do find that you need to be walking during one of the hotter parts of day (let’s face it, even though you start out early, if you are walking an 18 miler in the middle of summer you will end up in the heat) you need to make sure that you have plenty of breaks. This doesn’t mean you have to always go to the bathroom (though it is a good idea), sometimes you just need to stop under some shade to cool off before continuing on. Just keep in mind that the longer you break for the more likely it is to get hotter.
My sister will tell you that I don’t take a lot of breaks when I walk. Again, this is my mind wanting to get done with the mileage for the day with as little delay as possible. But despite that, when we have been on really hot walks I will step into some shade every half hour or so just to cool down from the heat. Texas is merciless in the summer.
I said before that planning was important and I will say it again because it feeds into the other points mentioned. Now that we have covered in more detail some of those things I would like to mention some more specifics on what I plan.
For the Route
When you are planning the route there are several things that you need to account for including:
- Time of day in relation to the route (so you can get the shadiest route possible)
- Refill areas for water, food, etc. This is like any route, but even more important with the heat. If you have a water refill area that has ice, even better!
- Starting time and an idea of when the hottest times of the day might be so you can avoid them
For The Bag
There are also several items that you need to make sure you take along with you to have an enjoyable hot weather walk. Keep in mind that I am not mentioning things that you should pack regardless of weather (first aid kit for example), just things specific to summer training. Some of these are must haves and some are just suggestions:
- Sunscreen. Let’s face it, the last thing you need to do while you are preparing for the fight against breast cancer is get skin cancer. It may seem like fear mongering to put it like that, but you are going to be in the sun for a very long time and you need to make sure you protect yourself. Remember to reapply!
- There are several varieties of chap stick that have SPF built in and I would recommend whatever you would prefer to use as ling as it has SPF.
- In addition to keeping you from squinting, sunglasses can also protect your eyelids and eyes from the harmful effects of the sun.
- Fan. While I don’t carry one myself, I have seen several people that carry one of those spray bottles with a fan on it and it looks quite refreshing.
- I’m kind of torn on bringing a hat with you. I can definitely see it as a benefit, but over the years I have had several hats give me heat rash on my head. I would recommend it, just be careful I your choice of hats.
So those are my suggestions for training in the summer weather. I know that I have forgotten some things and I am hopeful that members of the 3-Day community will remind me of them and I will. Try to update the post. Be careful out there in the hot weather and have fun!