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Beat the heat

trailrunningsun

Summer: the one season that has the power to make us suffer and enjoy it at the same time. It’s during these dog days that we have hours and hours of sunlight that lure us outside. The same sun bears down in relentless heat, which can zap the enthusiasm of even the most die-hard athlete.

And for us recreational athletes? Well, we get hot, too! It’s (kind of) tempting to hole up inside, but we don’t really want to. There’s vitamin D to absorb, after all! Blue sky! Sun! Here at Nikwax USA’s Seattle headquarters, those are in limited supply. We want to beat the heat, not escape it.

So, even if it’s hot enough to almost fry an egg on the sidewalk, we’ll take fresh air and scenery every time.

(A side note: always be on the lookout for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

If you experience any of these symptoms, move to somewhere cooler, sip water, and stop rigorous activity.

Now—when it’s just hot, and not heat-exhaustion hot—here’s how we suggest you  beat the heat and  keep your cool.

  • Do acclimate. Don’t go out for a two hour hike in the heat of the day if you haven’t been consistently working out in the warmer temps. Build your way up time wise, so your body doesn’t go into shock when blasted with that blazing sun.
  • Do take advantage of the extra daylight. The cooler evening and morning temperatures are so much easier on the constitution than, say, high noon.
  • Do wear the right clothing. Clothes that wick and are light in color are the best choices for the summer swelter. Don’t forget that a hat/visor can also do wonders to keep you cool. Make sure you keep those wicking and cooling properties at there max by properly washing and maintaining your workout wear with products like Nikwax BaseWash.
  • Do hydrate properly. Avoid that last beer before bed and caffeine in the morning before that singletrack ride or five-mile run. Keeping on top of your hydration all day long (before, during and post workout) will help keep your body temperature regulated. Not a huge fan of H2O? Try adding some Nuun hydration tablets, or toss a slice of lemon into your water bottle.
  • Do choose your path wisely. Is there shade, access to a water fountain, a sprinkler or two that goes off during your route? Ask yourself what are the cooling benefits you will have access to based on the direction you go and maximize those advantages.
  • Do partner up. Nothing helps more than having a buddy to keep that motivation up, to keep accountability and to keep safe.
  • Do know when enough is enough. If you begin to feel any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke from dizziness to cramping, stop activity.
  • Do take care of yourself once back indoors. Continue to hydrate by jazzing up water with a slice of lemon, enjoying a coconut water or some green tea with honey, eating water-based fruits and veggies like watermelon, pineapple and cucumber and taking a cold shower.
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Four steps to finding the perfect running gear

Trail Run

I’ve logged many an asphalt mile since the long-ago day I first stumbled through my first 10K race in rural Illinois.

And by race, I mean “run-walk” for 6.2 miles with a determined grimace on my face. By the time the finish line came into view, I was limping from one telephone pole to the next, hobbled by blisters and longing for the shade of a nearby cornfield.

Back then, my go-to running gear was a primitive pair of polyester shorts topped by a cotton tee. Socks were 100% cotton, and shoes were all-purpose “tennis shoes.” For warm-ups, I’d pull on a bulky blue sweatshirt.

Ta-dah!

No wonder the only runners I outpaced that race day were two pre-pubescent kids—the sole competition in my under-represented age group.

Running clothes and shoes have also come a long way. Wondering where to start? If you’re new to the sport, learn from my mistakes. Or, if you’re a seasoned veteran, take note and see if you agree (feel free to add your own tips in the comments below).

Without further ado, here are four tips to find the best running shoes and clothing:

  1. Cotton = misery. Cotton socks, with their tendency to soak up sweat and turn soggy, are almost guaranteed to breed blisters. Give yourself a break and choose socks with a high synthetic or wool content. I’m a fan of  Wigwam brand—and not just because it’s made in Wisconsin (though I do love Wisconsin). A good friend won’t wear anything but Icebreaker. It really doesn’t matter what sock you wear so long as it isn’t cotton..
  2. Plant your feet in reality. Minimalist running shoes aren’t for everyone. Look past the labels and get to know your feet before you make a purchase. Over-pronator? Supinator? Get educated about your gait with help from a running shop. Or, use this fun online tool from Mizuno.
  3. Consider a compromise. Found the supportive, workaday shoe you need, but still pining for a sleeker, sportier model? Try this tip: Train in a shoe with medium-to-high cushion, such as the venerable Asics GT-2000 or its cousin, the Brooks Adrenaline. On race day, switch to a lighter shoe for an extra burst of speed.
  4. Layers, layers, layers. Leave the hoodie at home and choose synthetic running clothing that wicks away sweat. Underwear is optional. (Really.) And don’t over-dress: you’ll heat up faster than you think, even in winter. Then, when those layers start stinking, reach for Nikwax BaseWash® or BaseFresh®.

Trust me—these tips will put you on the road to happier runs and better performance. (And fewer blisters.) Now take this advice and run with it!  —Kelly Huffman


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Get Fit, Don’t Stink: Keeping Your Workout Wear Fresh and Clean

CrossFit_pull-up

Between mud season and daylight savings time, we’re finding more and more excuses to exercise inside these days. Don’t worry—we’re not checking out entirely. We’re just taking advantage of indoors cross training to bridge the gap between snow and summer.

And, as anyone who has ever sweated through a high-octane crossfit schedule or soaked their technical clothes during a spin class knows (we’ll ask again: why is riding a stationary bike so hard?), one of the biggest challenges is keeping workout wear fresh and clean.

Whether they’re bunched in the bottom of your gym bag, or diligently tossed in the laundry later that night, the funk of indoor workout wear is exacerbated by the inevitable byproduct of an indoors workout: sweat.

In a climate-controlled environment, sweat is almost guaranteed. Outside, there might be a breeze. Or fluctuating temps. Or something else to keep the wet at bay. (Or not, we’ve ended many a plein air workout drenched, and, truth be told, it is highly satisfying).

Either way, it requires TLC to take proper care of your apparel.

(Special note: when you’re working out indoors, your feet will likely be sweating up a storm too. If you’re going sockless—a popular trend these days—pull out your insole after a workout to let it dry. If you’re just using insoles that came with the shoes, rinse them with BaseWash.)

So what does TLC for gym wear look like? A special detergent that will get rid of the grime without compromising the gear. And by that, we mean Nikwax BaseWash—a great way to keep your shirts and shorts fresh and clean.

Why a special detergent?

BaseWash cleans, deodorizes, inhibits the build up of body odors, accelerates drying, and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.

We know that’s a tall order for a cleaner. But it’s true.

BaseWash cleans and conditions simultaneously. It help prevent odor build up, which keeps your duds fresh. It also enhances and revitalizes the wicking properties of synthetic base layers, which increases breathability and helps fabric spread sweat and dry quickly. Get where we’re going with this? Think positive feedback cycle.

Put simply, regular detergent just doesn’t perform as well. Sure, it can clean. But it won’t provide the same results.

Think of it this way: you take good care of yourself with exercise, so do the same for your workout wear.