I have recently spoken to a few people about setting new running goals. A common theme of these discussions is the drop in races over summer, and how not having something to train for affects motivation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, a bit of down time over summer can be a good thing to rest and recover, before building up the training again next year. It is a good idea though, to keep up a base level of training and fitness so you aren’t starting from scratch.
But how do you stay motivated when it’s getting hot, you have Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve parties, end of year parties and late nights on the horizon, plus holidays, school holidays and family things that might be competing for your attention. Here are some of my suggestions.
Do a fun race – I have definitely mentioned this in other posts, but summer can be a great time to do some different types of races. Athletics season runs through summer, and if you have never tried a race on the track (or haven’t done it since school), it can be a great time to sign up for a 5000m, a 10,000m, or even try your hand at something shorter. On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of trail races happen during summer, which can be a good opportunity to do something you haven’t done before, build up some different skills, or develop your endurance by running up and down some big hills.
Make use of parkrun – It’s on every week no matter what, sometimes even a few extra times over the holidays, which gives you a guaranteed run to go to. Keeping up your parkrun routine is a great way to make sure you get some running in over summer. It’s also a good time to invite your friends who aren’t regular runners to come along.
Have a weekend away – Signing up for a run is always a good excuse to have a weekend away! These days, it’s as easy as finding a parkrun you want to visit and making a weekend of it. It’s is a great way to visit a new place, have a small holiday and run somewhere new.
Start up a running group at your work – Get your colleagues together and start up a lunch time running group. If the weather is hot, you might need to keep the pace easy, or try to find a shady spot to run. If getting out at lunch is tricky, why not make it in the morning or after work.
Find a new place to run – It’s good to have a few options available to mix up your training to keep yourself from getting bored. If you always run the same way when you’re training, use summer as a time to look for some new running routes. Even if you only vary your courses from time, it can be enough to make it feel fresh. Another option could be to see if you can run to work, or make use of daylight savings (and the cooler time of day) and run earlier or later than usual.
Arrange some social events – Summer is a good time to do some social running events with your friends. You could organise a beer mile, or even have a picnic and games – the sack race and wheelbarrow race are not just for kids! Keeping up the social connections with your running friends will help you stay motivated.
Cross train – If it gets too hot to run, look at other activities you can do to stay fit. This could be a good time to visit your local pool or try out a spin class. Both activities will help with base aerobic fitness that you can use when it’s time to get back into running training.
Volunteer – When you are not in the middle of a heavy block of training, it’s a great time to give something back to the running community. Have a look at what events are coming up and see where you can offer to assist as a volunteer – parkrun is a good place to start, or Little As if you have kids. Being involved in these events, watching other people run and maintaining the community connections will also help to inspire you to keep your training up.
Increase your knowledge – As runners, we are always learning. There is so much information out there about running, training, shoes, technique and races. If you are taking a break from heaving training over summer, it can be a good time to increase your running knowledge. Do a coaching course, buy a running book, review your running technique, sign up for podcasts, subscribe to a magazine or read some online articles. All of these things can be a great inspiration for your next block of training.
Get some new equipment – The end of a training season can be a good opportunity to prepare for the next one. Do you need new shoes? How about any new gear? If you are venturing into trails, you might need a belt or hydration pack. Having some new equipment will often make you excited to try it out, which is also a good source of inspiration. Plus, looking at new gear means you always have something to put on your Christmas list.
Go through your old gear – My husband always says, if you get something new, you have to throw something out. There are some good options for donating your old running clothes or shoes to charities or organisations that will pass them on to people who need them.
Write a race report – This is a good opportunity to look back about the things you did over the year, share your experiences and think about what worked well and where you can improve. It can also help re-live some of the excitement of a big race, and inspire you to start thinking about another one.
Set your goals – That last point leads me to this one! The best way to increase your motivation is to have something to work towards. Think about what you might like to achieve in the upcoming year, check out the running calendar, have a look at what races you might be able to do, and talk to your friends about what they are planning. Once you have a few ideas, have entered some races, or have some goals in mind, it can give a sense of purpose to your training, which often makes it easier to get out the door.
Enter a race in February, March or April – If all else fails, one way to make summer training a reality is to pick a goal like the Tokyo marathon (Feb), Six Foot Track (March) or one of the Canberra races in April. It’s been awhile since I’ve done it, but I’m sure there is something to be gained from logging kilometres in the sweaty summer humidity, even if it’s just mental benefit. Have fun!