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Summer ranks among many people’s favorite season of the year. Vacations, warm weather, more daylight, BBQ, pool time… what’s not to love? Many runners are surprised to find that keeping their momentum going during the summer can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to be consistent in your marathon training this summer you are not alone.
I recently did a poll on the MTA Facebook page and found the top reasons why people struggled with marathon training in the summer.
- Only 11% said that they remain just as motivated during the summer
- 62% struggled with heat/humidity
- 22% had a hard time due to travel/family commitments
- 5% dealt with allergies or a general lack of motivation.
In this post I share some tips on how to get past these barriers and make this summer one of your fittest ever.
Heat and Humidity
Training safely through the summer (even if you feel like you’re slogging) can translate to faster race times once the cooler weather hits. Plus, you’ll enjoy those crisp fall runs even more. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for those of us who experience hot and humid running conditions during the summer.
- Be sure to check the heat index which takes into account the temperature and humidity levels. This way you’ll be able to plan what you’ll wear, how much fluids and electrolytes to consume, and how far you’ll run.
- Consider running early in the morning (which is best) or in the evening. Try to avoid the hottest time of the day which is 10am-4pm. If the sun is out in full force, try to run in a shaded area.
- Stay hydrated during warm weather. Consume 16 oz. of water an hour before your run. Carry water or a sports drink with you during your run and consume between 16-24 oz of fluid per hour.
- Wear light-colored synthetic fabrics and avoid cotton. You should also wear a broad brimmed hat or visor and sunglasses.
- Apply waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30+ that has UVA and UVB protection to all exposed skin and reapply as needed.
- Don’t push the intensity of your workout which could lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Accept that your pace will be somewhat slower on hot days.
- Know the signs of heat related problems like dehydration and heat exhaustion.
For many people it can get difficult to run outside starting in the spring. In some places pollen counts can remain high during the summer which makes maintaining your running routine more difficult. So, if your nose runs faster than you do, here are some tips to help.
- Check the allergen index to see if the pollen index is high. You can find information for your area at www.pollen.com. Consider running indoors or cross training for the days when the pollen index is high or if you’re having an allergy flare.
- Don’t wear your shoes indoors (they can track in pollen) and throw your running clothes in the wash right away.
- Shower and wash your hair immediately after running outside.
- Close the windows to keep the inside of your home more allergy friendly.
- Wash your sheets more frequently in hot water.
- Take your allergy medication in the evening so that you have a full load on board for your morning run. For acute symptoms take an anti-histamine after running.
- Use a neti pot or other saline spray to clear airways of pollen.
- Carry tissue while running or perfect the snot rocket.
Travel and Family Commitments
Summer can often mean changes in your regular schedule. These changes can be enjoyable (like vacations) but they can often throw you off track in your training and exercise. It’s harder to stay in a routine in an unfamiliar environment. Things like staying up late, sleeping in, not having the right equipment, not being familiar with the area and general laziness can all sabotage your running. For those of us with kids out of school, summer can be extra busy and we may lack that “me time” that we rely on. Sometimes all we feel like doing is unwinding over the weekend with a BBQ, not making time for fitness. Here are some tips to staying consistent in the face of travel or family commitments.
- Plan ahead. Think about what challenges you’ll face and how you’ll keep your exercise routine going.
- Make a schedule for yourself. Put your goals on paper to give yourself some structure. The summer can be a great time to train for a race, try a new sport (break that bike out of storage), or give a routine like P90X a try.
- Take your running clothes and shoes and other important gear with you while traveling. Staring at those running shoes in your suitcase can help motivate you to get out the door.
- Plan alternate exercise options for those days when running may not be an option. You could always pop in a yoga video, jump rope, or play Frisbee. If you’ll be touring on foot attach a pedometer to your shoe and watch the miles add up.
- Explore new routes. There’s nothing like experiencing a new area on foot. Most cities and vacation destinations have parks, trails, and other beautiful locations to run. Check out mapmyrun.com.
- Include your family. Kids can ride their bikes while you run, play Frisbee together as a family, have a jump rope competition or swim laps together.
- Remember the big picture. Make it fun and keep your payoff factors in mind. Living in the moment while working toward your running goals will make it that much more rewarding.
Lack of Motivation
For some of us the start of summer automatically triggers a lack of motivation. Maybe you’re super busy during the school year and summer offers more free time which makes you want to veg out indefinitely. Maybe you’re extra busy in the summer and it’s hard to find the time and motivation to work out.
With the increased daylight it’s certainly easy to stay up late and not get up early enough to include exercise in your morning routine. Maybe you’re motivated by racing and you don’t currently have a race on the calendar. It can be hard to push yourself without a training plan or deadline. Here’s how to deal with a lack of motivation:
- Admit that you’re unmotivated. Don’t expect perfection, but don’t let yourself off the hook too easily. We all go through times when our motivation is lower than normal.
- Figure out the cause. Lack of drive can be exacerbated by heat, a busy schedule, injury, and overtraining which can lead to burnout. The best way to find a solution is to identify the cause. The way to overcome your productivity dip will depend on what created it in the first place.
- Map out a solution. Once you’ve identified the problem you can take steps to fix it. This may require some creativity, but you’ll feel better about having a plan. If you’re injured you need to map out a recovery plan that involves proper diagnosis, rest and deliberate cross training. If you’re overwhelmed by your schedule, take the time to eliminate the non-essentials and schedule in running and cross training. You’ll be a happier and more productive person. If the hot weather is your nemesis, find ways to beat the heat. One solution may be to sign up for a fall or winter race. Having a formal training plan can take the guesswork out of the equation and keep you on track.
- Be accountable. Find someone who will help keep you on target. Incorporating some positive peer pressure can help you stay focused. Find a friend who has similar goals as you do and train together or check on each other’s progress. Post your goals and daily progress on Facebook, connect with the MTA page, blog about your journey, or become a member of the Academy. Knowing that someone will be asking you about your efforts is often enough to increase your motivation.
We hope that the rest of your summer is wonderful and that you feel empowered to beat the heat, stay consistent during travel or family commitments, and get re-motivated.