Now that we are in the prime of summer, we are able to enjoy long hours of daylight, getting dressed in a snap (no gloves! no outer layer!), and festive weekend races.
However, hot sunny days can also leave you a victim of heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to heat stroke - a life-threatening condition that can cause the body to reach a temperature of 106 degrees or more.
The good news is that heat exhaustion can be prevented with smart training, heat acclimation, and simple ways to stay cool.
Michael Fussell, a long-time XTERRA trail runner, coach, and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) believes there is no substitute for proper training.
"My professional opinion is that if you are unprepared for the heat, don't race," said Fussell. "Overhydrating and staying cool the day before will be little benefit once on the course."
He recommends gradually acclimating to heat over a period of weeks or months by running more slowly and for a shorter durations in warmer temperatures. Fussell also cautions against overdoing it in the sun, which can cause dizziness, cramps, and nausea.
As long as your body is acclimated to the temperature you will be running on race day, Fussell has a few tips to beat the heat:
- DO wear technical fabric designed to minimize heat retention.
- DO run slower than you normally would.
- DO take in as many fluids as possible during the race.
- DO cool the body by dumping water on your head, back, and chest.
- DON'T wear long, baggy shorts and tops. The less fabric you wear, the more skin you can expose to rapid evaporation and cooling.
By running smart, you can enjoy the amazing XTERRA summer trail races taking place in July, like the EX2 Off-Road Triathlon and Duathlon and the Rosaryville Trail Run, both of which are in Maryland this weekend.
EX2 Off-Road Triathlon & Duathlon
On July 9th, the EX2 will take place in Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, Maryland.
"For athletes looking to stay cool, Rocky Gap is a great place to beat the heat," said race director, Jim Harman.
The triathlon begins with a .75 mile, 2-lap swim in a clear mountain lake and the duathlon takes off with a three-mile, semi-technical trail run. After the first segment, all racers head out to complete two laps of a mountain bike course that includes twisty lakeside single-track, wide fire roads, smooth grassy sections, and a few 'rock gardens'. Once completing the mountain bike course, racers transition to a five-mile run on rooty trails, over smooth open flats, and up a great big climb.
"You are going to love this race venue," said Harman. "The race is just two and a half hours outside of Washington, DC. You'll have challenging trails, picture perfect beauty, and fantastic amenities. Bring the whole family and camp, golf, fish, and hit the beach!"
Stylists from Lauran Kirk Hair Artistry, a full-service Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, located in Northpointe Plaza, Morgantown, West Virginia, will cut hair from 11am to 2pm and the public is welcome to participate. Get a professional haircut in exchange for a minimum donation of $15, or you can get braids for a donation of $5.
To register, visit www.ex2adventures.com
XTERRA Rosaryville Trail Run
On the eastern part of the state, XTERRA Rosaryville Trail Run offers both a half marathon and 5K on the trails.
At almost 1000 acres, Rosaryville State Park is the home of the historic Mount Airy Mansion, which used to be a hunting lodge for Lord Baltimore. Today, these deep woods are full of shady single track and open meadows.
XTERRA Rosaryville is the final trail race in the XTERRA Atlantic Series. You can view the series standings at www.XTERRAplanet.com. The winner of each age group is awarded an entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Ogden, Utah in September.
To register, visit www.XTERRAAtlantic.com.