4 Ways to Make the Most of the Warm, Sunny Weather…Safely
Every year at this time my clients get super-enthusiastic about heading outside and jumping back into the activities they love to do. I’m all for it. Until they come to see me a week or so later with tales of weekend warrior aches and pains that are holding them back from their next adventure.
It’s easy to get caught up in the long hours of daylight and push ourselves too hard on the first warm days of spring. Here are a few tips to keep you in your best shape, having fun and avoiding over-doing it.
- Remember your last outdoor adventure. We are always in better shape at the end of the summer than we were in the beginning. I know, in a perfect world, you were working out all winter and are coming out of hibernation stronger than you went in. However, I find most of us are fair-weather hikers, bikers, etc. We like to be outdoors when the weather is at its best. Think back to your last big hurrah last year. Start this year with half that distance or intensity. I love to hike Bird Ridge…during the summer. For the first 3 years I was in Alaska, it was one of the first hikes I did in the spring, once it was mostly snow-free. I would then spend the next 3-5 days barely able to walk…not a good plan. And it took me 3 years to realize that I could do other, easier hikes for a 2-3 weeks, then hike Bird Ridge and have a much better week following the first ascent.
- Leave your ego at home. We go outdoors to have fun. You have nothing to prove…and if you do, find different friends to go play with (#sorrynotsorry). Your body will tell you when you’re approaching and/or going over the edge in terms of what you can do. I’m not saying don’t challenge yourself. I am saying listen to your body. There’s a big difference between, “I’m tired,” “I’ll feel this tomorrow,” and “I can’t get off the toilet.” It’s a better choice to come close to the edge without going over the edge. Since we are in Alaska, the stakes are higher…always. When we go past the point of pain out in the wilderness, we exponentially increase our risk of being a rescue story. Our brain is incapable of making good decisions when we’ve pushed too hard and that’s where bad things happen. Which bring me to my next tip.
- Drink Well. Dehydration and fatigue can take out the best of us. I’ve seen perfectly reasonable adults have complete melt-downs when they’re dehydrated. This is a danger zone we don’t usually recognize until it’s too late. Have water with you no matter where you go. Dehydration sneaks up on us because if it’s not too hot, we don’t sweat. If we don’t sweat, we are lulled into thinking everything is fine on the hydration front. We can experience emotional instability when we are just 1-5% dehydrated. At 5-10%, we can experience slurred speech and confusion. If you live in Anchorage or north, we live in a fairly dry climate. We lose water every time we breathe. Dehydration can come on fast. Drink water throughout your adventure.
- Wear reflective gear. If you’re outdoor adventures are more urban, continue to wear bright, easy-to-see colors. Yes, we have about 16 hours of daylight now, but it’s not always bright. Gray days do not work in your favor. We all think everyone should be able to see us. Remember, people are VERY distracted while driving and dusky, low light can play tricks on our eyes. Brighter is better. Leave the black leggings and jackets at home. Make yourself easy for everyone to see.
This may be a unique summer for us given the COVID-19 fallout. Fewer tourists give us locals a more Alaskan experience. Get out and enjoy! Just make sure you can get off the toilet the next day. 😉