The News-Press, 8/16/2018
by Ken Gooderham
For those who like their exercise outdoors, summer is always a challenging time of year. The heat, the humidity, the thunderstorms… and, now, the double whammy of red tide and blue-green algae.
But all of these threats don’t have to drive you indoors (although that is always an option). There are ways to work around most of them without sacrificing your exercise routine.
Heat is the most consistent Florida challenge, and the obstacle that can be easiest to overcome.
First, get outside when it’s the coolest (early morning). It’s lowers the stress on your body and can be a useful routine to get you through the May to October bake.
Second, lower your expectations. You can acclimate yourself to running or riding in the heat (strongly encouraged), but you still need to realize that it’s hard to keep up your cool-weather pace and distance when your body has to work extra hard to cool itself down. That fact that you’re out there putting in the miles matters more than how fast or how far you’re going right now.
Third, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You need to replace the liquid you’re losing to perspiration (or you’ll have real problems to deal with), and taking in cool liquids can in itself help lower your body temperature.
Fourth, plan your route. Look for shady paths, pay attention to wind direction (to both cool and boost you), and consider a route that leaves you options if the heat is just too much… such as cutting the run or ride short or including a longer walk break.
Fifth, dress for the weather. Light colors, sweat-wicking materials, and keeping your attire as light and as little as possible will help. (But don’t ignore sunscreen if you’re leaving body parts exposed to the sun during the peak times of the day… when you shouldn’t be out anyway.)
Finally, consider cooler options. If you run, consider walking more… or try running in the pool or inside (yes, boring, but often necessary). If you ride, carry plenty of cold liquids – even start out with one frozen bottle of water (along with a cold but liquid one), knowing that by the time you switch it out further in the ride it will be more liquid but still refreshing.
Maybe throw in a different exercise – say, swimming – that’s better suited to summertime (and hard to do many times the rest of the year). It will keep you cooler and still give your body a new challenge… and you might find you like it to boot!
Thunderstorms are easy – don’t go out in them. It’s dangerous on every front, and a hazard that’s easy to avoid.
This summer’s new challenge is the waterborne assault of blue-green algae and good old red tide. For in- or on-water activities, avoid the impacted areas if at all possible or minimize your time there to be safe. And, of course, don’t swim in the blue-green muck or eat seafood that’s been caught where there is a bloom.
What about water-adjacent activities? Take it easy and see how you react… and expect coughing, sneezing and other allergic reactions the closer you get to impacted waters. If/when that happens, beat a hasty retreat and live to run or ride another day.
What we don’t know about the risks of both blue-green algae and red tide is astounding and more than a little appalling… but the little we do know is not good. The risk to sea life is clear – just look at the body count from local shorelines – so the impact on humans is certainly suspect.
If the blooms drive you indoors, take the unexpected break to reach out to your elected officials and urge immediate and effective action on the driving forces behind these outbreaks. Push back against the polluters, lessen the nutrient loading of our waters and find ways to clean up and better manage Lake O and send its excess water somewhere other than down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie outlets.
Cleaner water and safer shorelines… now that’s something to get exercised about!
Ready to ride or run?Run? The summer running doldrums continue, but there are two 5Ks on tap for the dedicated: The Omega Youth 5K this Saturday at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com), and the North Collier Regional Rampage 5K on Aug. 25 (eliteevents.org). There’s also another Fort Myers Track Club social on Aug. 28, this time at Millennial Brewery in Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com).
Ride? Critical Mass rides ahead include the Saturday Slow Roll the morning of Aug. 25 in downtown Fort Myers, and the Cape Coral night ride Aug. 31. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details at http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/. You can also join the no-drop Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning ride leaving from Fort Myers Trek. The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, so helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group.
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Saturday, Sept. 8: Venice Sprint Triathlon, Sharkey’s on the Pier, Venice (active.com)
- Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16: Galloway Captiva Tri, with the kids’ events (three age groups) Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday. (captivatri.org)
- Saturday, Sept. 22: (“The Original”) Siesta Key Sprint Triathlon, Siesta Key (trifind.com)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.