It’s almost summertime, which means HOORAY, you can get outside for your training… but as an athlete, there are a few things you might want to check before the summer heat (and your race season, if you’re a runner, cyclist or triathlete) really kicks into high gear.
Check your sunscreen expiration dates
I honestly had no idea sunscreen expired, but it does. Check!! (Yes, it really does expire, that’s not just a ploy to get you to buy more.) And while you’re at it, you might want to just consider what kind of sunscreen you’re using, how well it works, if you want to go natural versus chemical, et cetera. Personally, I keep a waterproof sports-oriented one like Neutrogena’s Wet Skin option in my bag for when I’m solo and need to quickly get sunscreen’d up and don’t have anyone to get my back for me, plus their Sport sunscreen lotion for more daily use on my body. But for my face, I try to use a more physical-barrier sunscreen. For racing, though, I’m all about the Neutrogena Wet Skin spray everywhere, because it’s the one I’ve found works the best for me when I’m sweating buckets.
Try on your race kit
We’re only human, and we change year after year. That tri suit that you only race in once every July might not fit the same way it did last year and that’s OK—but you don’t want to wait until race day to find out that you need to figure out a new option! The same applies to running/riding gear that you haven’t worn in a while.
…And your wetsuit
Remember what I was saying for newer triathletes? Yeah, how a wetsuit fits can mean the difference between crushing a swim and freaking out and feeling claustrophobic in the water. Even a slight change in your body can change the way the neck fits, so it’s worth trying on before race day if you haven’t worn it in a year. You also want to check for cracks and holes. You CAN patch those cheaply! And if you don’t like how it feels, you can make minor changes—personally (and I don’t think everyone should do this since it can unravel some wetsuits), I chop a couple inches off the legs of mine since a) I’m short, and b) I prefer more movement. I’ve used a waterproof fabric tape to make sure it doesn’t end up unraveling, and I find that extra bit of freedom at my ankles makes a big difference.
Check your laundry setup
We’ve realized as the temps have risen, our winter/cool weather laundry strategy doesn’t cut it—and since my clothes sit in a hamper before going into the wash, I need to speed up my laundry cycles. This means doing a load with both Peter and my clothing every 3-4 days, rather than each of us doing our separate laundry once a week (we have separate hampers just out of convenience with where our clothes are stored). Hot weather = more sweat and more workout clothes getting mucky and muddy. This means you may need a second hamper that’s just devoted to workout gear, rather than mixing it in with everyday clothing. Make sure you have your washer set to double rinse if you have sensitive skin, and if your gear stinks, you can try a vinegar rinse to get sweat smell out. (More on athlete laundry here.)
Plan your hydration strategy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—carry a huge Nalgene bottle all day, never end up starting your run feeling dehydrated. Dr. Stacy Sims talks a lot about pre-hydration, aka starting a run already well-hydrated, and how it is the most important part of staying well-hydrated on hot days. For under-$20, what are you waiting for? And if you know you hate the taste of plain water (it happens) figure out what you do like: do you need lemon wedges, cucumber slices, lime juice, tons of ice? Prep your stash now, get new ice cube trays if needed, etc.
And of course, don’t neglect your in-run or in-ride strategy. Peter likes to fill his on-bike bottles half full and freeze them, then add water on top. If you use a hydration pack with a bladder, you’re better off with ice cubes mixed in with water so you don’t block your valve, or have an uncomfortably shaped brick of ice on your back.