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How To: Tips for Running in the Heat

Spring is here and summer is coming. Which is awesome in a lot of ways: longer days, warmer temps, and a lot of winter training begins to pay off in races. But to be sure that you are ready for the change in seasons, check out our top tips for running in the heat.

Acclimate

If you’ve got a race coming up in the middle of the summer, you’re going to need to acclimate. It takes most people anywhere between eight and 14 days to acclimate (think: decreased heart rate, decreased body temperature, increased sweat rate, etc.). They are all adaptations that your body makes in response to working out in the heat. Which means if you’ve been doing most of your training in an air conditioned room on a treadmill, you’re going to have to spend some time outdoors getting your body ready.

Be flexible

When it comes to running in the heat, try to be flexible with the time of day that you run (early mornings or evenings). After all, it’s difficult to get motivated to lace up when it’s noon and the sun is at it’s peak. In addition, try to be flexible with the kind of workout that you do. If your training plan is calling for a long run on a day that’s sweltering, consider adjusting your schedule so as to do it on a day with some cloud cover and or lower temps. Or, just slow your pace down and train within safe limits.

Woman running on the road in the Everglades.

Running in the Everglades!

Hydrate before you start working out

If your urine is dark yellow or brown, you’re probably dehydrated. Make a point to drink throughout the day, especially before and after workouts, so that your urine is light in color. It’s not a bad idea to keep a glass of water by your bed as well (especially if you’ve had alcohol or caffeine throughout the day.)

Keep drinking

There’s all kinds of ways to carry fluids on a run these days. Everything from packs with bladders, to hand-helds, to belts, to vests, etc. Pick one that works for you and take it with you. It’ll help you not only go longer but stay safer on runs in the heat. If you don’t want to carry anything with you, be sure your run has some water fountains along the way or stash some beforehand.

Drink sports drinks

Water is great but on longer runs you may want to consider a sports drink that has electrolytes in it. Drinks like Gatorade, have not only sugar in them but sodium and electrolytes like sodium and potassium that can help you replace what you lose in your sweat. If you’re going to be working out in the heat, for longer than an hour, or at high intensities, a sports drink might be a better call than just plain water.

Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake

We love coffee and beer and wine and liquor. But both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which will cause you to urinate more than usual. Doing so can lead to dehydration. Be sure to replace lost fluids anytime you’re drinking coffee, soda, tea, liquor, beer, wine, etc. Happy hours are always a lot of fun but if you have an important workout planned for the next day and it’s going to be hot out, think twice before you put these things in your body.

Tips for Running in the Heat 1

IPA’s or water …

Head for the trails

Ever gone for a run in the summer on the road and felt like it was literally throwing heat up at you? It is. Do yourself a favor and hit the trails. Many of them offer natural shade and can feel ten to fifteen degrees cooler. Bonus points for finding a trail that’s near a stream or lake when you can jump in and cool off post-run.

Protect yourself from the sun

Lather up in sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and wear a visor or hat to keep the sun off your face. Also consider sporting some sunglasses. If you don’t wear either regularly, they make take some getting used to, but they’ll prevent you from soaking up dangerous and harmful rays. Another thing to try out is a Buff which you can wear around your neck and keep wet. It’ll keep you cool and also keep the sun off your neck.

Choose your clothes wisely

Reach for clothing and gear that’s moisture-wicking, lightweight and light in color. There’s tons of great choices that have mesh, vents, synthetic fibers and more that are designed to keep your core temp as low as possible. Some people like to wear as little clothing as possible on hot days but remember that in doing so you’re exposing your skin to the sun. If you want some recommendations on some running gear, look HERE.

Running in the heat

Getting a run in near Dunedin, Florida!

Crosstrain

The summer is also a great time of year to try new things like cycling, swimming, kayaking, surfing, pool running, stand up paddle boarding. The list of activities is almost endless. Chances are you’ll never break up with running, but choosing different activities might help you find something new to love, help break up the monotony of running, strengthen different muscle groups and keep you out of the heat on days when running feels like a chore. We’re getting a bike rack put on our van soon so we’ll be able to bring them with us on our trips from now on.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Listening to your body is one thing, but paying attention to it is another. Be sure that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stop if you experience dizziness, confusion, a headache, nausea, poor balance and a lack of sweating. Any and all of these should be taken seriously as your body is trying to tell you something. Failure to listen to the warning signs can be dangerous, and in some cases, fatal.

Tips for Running in the Heat Recap

Though running in the heat can present some unique challenges it can also be a great confidence booster (especially if you’re training for a fall race and can expect cooler temperatures). With a little bit of planning and flexibility, working out safely in the heat and running in the spring and summer months can still be fun. As always, be sure to check with your doctor before deciding to start up a new exercise program or routine. 

Interested in other running articles? Be sure to check out our Best Women’s Running Gear as well as our piece on the Best Places to Run in Florida. We’ve also got one on Running Motivation in case you need a little something to get you going. If you’re traveling around, no worries. Check out our Van Life Workouts for the days when you don’t have enough time to get in an actual run.

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What No One Tells You About Van Life

Is van life all gorgeous sunsets, sweet camping spots and pretty pictures showing your feet? Nope. Not exactly. Here’s the truth about van life that you probably won’t see on Instagram. It’s not meant to get you down, but to open your eyes to the realities of a life on the road. If you’re considering ditching your house for a home on wheels, give this a read: What no one tells you about van life.

Finding free parking isn’t as easy as it sounds.

We actually end up sleeping in Wal Mart parking lots more than we thought we might. They’re level, in tons of cities and give us access to food, bathrooms and water. They’re also loud and bright which means we don’t always sleep all that well. We’ve stayed at some really sweet campsites but the costs add up. Most campgrounds are anywhere from $20-40 a night and it’s hard for us to justify the money since we’re on a budget. When we started out we thought we’d be able to find quiet roads and parking lots and lots of good BLM space but the reality is that most of the cool places have signs that don’t allow for overnight parking. Or they’re not level or they’re not safe. Or we’re in the wrong part of the country. We do have a couple of really great memories from stealth camping but these are the exception rather than the norm.

What No One Tells You About Van Life

And then every now and then you find a spot like this!

You’ll have to figure out what to do with your stuff.

The process of downsizing and minimizing that we went through in order to live a life on the road was pretty intense. In about a year’s time we either donated most of our clothing to Goodwill or sold it to Second Gear in Asheville. We also parted ways with trinkets and mementos that we’d be hanging on to for years. None of it really sunk in, however, until I sold my car. I got a couple thousand dollars for it but for some reason, selling it felt like the last bit of my old life. Like I was somehow selling more than my car, I was selling stability; getting rid of the person I used to be, so that I could become lighter, freer and more easily able to travel. It was definitely a process but now that it’s done it actually feels pretty amazing. And not having to pay money for a storage unit each month is pretty awesome. To learn more about how to downsize, click HERE.

Living in a van is actually pretty gross.

Though we wrote a post about How to Stay Clean on the Road we have to admit that a lot of time we’re gross! Stinky! Covered in a film of camp funk, van junk and sweat … okay, you get the picture? If you are the kind of person who needs to shower twice a day and absolutely must wish their hands every time they pee, this might not be the kind of life for you.

The lows are really low but the highs are really high.

We’ve heard several other adventurers describe some of this journeys this way. I think it’s just part of living a life on the road. Especially if you have an older vehicle. We experience this a lot less frequently now that our van is new. But we’ve had plenty of experiences where we just saw the most epic sunset, ate the most amazing meal or run the prettiest trail only to then realize the motorhome won’t turn-over.

Homesickness is real.

Though traveling around is awesome, you’re bound to, at some point, miss your home. Or your friends. Or your favorite coffee shop. Heck, maybe even all three. Though we’ve met a ton of really cool people, most of the time the interactions are fleeting. And that can leave you with a sense of not having a community or being part of a community. Which in turn can lead to feelings of homesickness. It usually passes pretty quickly but if you’re not expecting it, you’ll be in for a real surprise when it hits.

The weather will have a big impact on your experience.

This one was a surprise for us. We both love sunny days (hence why we spent a good chunk of the winter in Florida) but we were unprepared for how the rain and cold would impact us. And the heat. Anything from 50-70 degrees is perfect but anything below or above that starts to feel a little stressful when you’re traveling in a van. Especially when you only have two windows and minimal insulation. We’ve found that when it comes to sweating or freezing, Caroline would rather sweat and I would rather freeze. So … we’re considerings places with milder temps lol.

You will have moments of doubt and worry.

Vehicle problems, poor weather, lack of a plan, disruption of a plan, logistical hassles, parking tickets … there’s enough reasons out there to give you some serious moments of doubt. We’ve had a couple moments when we wanted to throw in the towel and just go back to a normal life but we’ve always rode it out together and thankfully always ended up wanting to continue with our travel. Financial worries tend to be the worst. Be prepared for them, know they will come up and give yourself some time before making some drastic changes. At the very least, sleep on it before you make a big decisions. And get used to eating Instant Lunch haha.

You’ll always need to find power, water, gas and food.

Depending how much and how often you need these things depends on your rig. Some vans have refrigerators, microwaves, water tanks and even ovens! Ours is pretty basic in that we keep our food cool with a cooler, we store our water in jugs and water bottles and we’re constantly needing to recharge our laptops and cellphones in other people’s outlets. To see what our most used gear is, check out our piece on our Top 9 Van Life Essentials. These daily needs keep us on the hunt for water fountains, gas stations, grocery stores and outlets for sure but it actually does get a little easier once you get into the rhythm of the road.

Van Life Realities

The costs are real.

Yes, your vehicle is now your house, but it still costs money to keep it running. Insurance, maintenance, oil changes, fuel … it all adds up. And it can be more than you might think. We’ve started to try and do less driving each day to cut down on costs and make sure that when we’re freelancing, we’re picking jobs up that make sense (in other words: not driving miles and miles for very little money). It’s not something we like to think about, but the harsh reality of van life is that it’s not free. Be sure you have a plan for making money while you’re on the road.

Most plans never go EXACTLY as planned.

If you’re nimble on your feet and flexible then you’re off to a good start. We’ve found that most of our trips, heck, most of our days, rarely go according to plan. Though we often set out with a rough idea of what we want to do and where we want to go, things change. Roads are closed, things break down, we can’t find food, there isn’t a gas station for miles, no cell service…it’s variables like these that keep us on our toes and sometimes make us feel like we want to pull our hair out. Other times, the plan falling through is a good thing because we discover a new beach or trail and realize that it really is about the journey and not so much the destination.

What No One Tells You About Van Life Recap

On the flip side of leaving your home in pursuit of adventure, there are so many things to love about it. You’ll find a new found sense of freedom. Your days will be unique and full of new experiences. You’ll meet new friends! If you’re able to lean into the uncertainty of this kind of life rather than have it freak you out, you might just find that it’s addicting and that you can’t ever go back to a “normal” life.

We’ve just signed on for another year on the road and are currently planning our trip. We’ll be headed north towards Pittsburgh, Erie and possibly even Toronto. If you have any tips for us about those places, we’d love to hear about them!

If you liked this, be sure to check out our piece on Van Life Myth vs. Reality and Best Van Life Gear Under $50.

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Our Favorite Classic Camping Cocktails

Camping and cocktails? Yeah, why not?! Though we bring beer most of the time on our trips, every now and then we really crave something with a little extra kick. Lately it’s been bourbon and whiskey. We’ve compiled three of our favorite and best camping cocktails. Each of them includes 4 ingredients or less which keeps it simple when you’re on the road and space is limited.

Hot Toddy

1/4 cup boiling water

2 ounces of whiskey
1/2 of a Lemon
1 tablespoon of honey

Grab a camp cup and squeeze a half a lemon into it, using your hand as a ladle to catch the seeds.  Drop the lemon carcass into the bottom and add a tablespoon of honey, as much whiskey as you’re up for, and then top it all off with boiling water. If you are feeling seasonal, add a cinnamon stick or slice of fresh ginger. This is our go-to for cold weather camping as well as when we’re feeling sick on the road.

Old Fashioned

2 ounces of bourbon
1 teaspoon of sugar (or a sugar packet or sugar cube)
2 dashes of bitters
Ice

The hot toddy obviously uses hot water, but the other two are, in our opinion, better with ice. That of course means having a way to keep ice. If you’re going to be car camping, this is fairly easy. Just load up your favorite cooler and then keep it in the shade. If you’re going to be backpacking, it’s going to be a bit more challenging and you’ll have to decide whether hauling ice in a thermos is worth it or not. For those of you willing to make sacrifices because you’re in the woods, just know that they don’t taste terrible without ice! We’ve had them on several occasions like that and while it’s not our favorite, it’ll do in a pinch.

In addition, though you probably wouldn’t want to hike a whole bottle of bourbon into the backcountry because of weight considerations as well as having to pack it out again, but you could easily bring it on a weekend car camping trip.

You could also pour some contents into a lightweight flask and hike it in. If you’ve ever had a really good drink in the backcountry, you’ll know why we’d go to these lengths.

Camping Cocktails Recap

With only a couple of ingredients, these cocktails are pretty easy to make, even when you’re camping.

Have you tried any of these easy camp cocktails? If so, we’d love to know your thoughts on them! Please leave your comments below.

Oh and we’ve got your mornings covered as well! Read up on How to Make Awesome Camp Coffee.

Headed out on a camping trip soon? Be sure to check out our Campsite Do’s and Dont’s as well as our story on How to Pick a Great Campsite.

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