Which type of summer runner are you – one with a plan or only in it for the fun?

Some advice for runners who are looking for a summer to remember

 

I find myself coaching two distinct types of runners in the summer months.

In Camp A are the runners with a training plan. These runners have a clear focus. It might be an autumn marathon or a 5km personal best but they are all aiming for something big – a medal, a distance or a time on the clock.

On the other side of the fence, in Camp B, are those runners who don’t have any great milestone in mind. They want to keep moving, enjoy their summer of running but not take it too seriously. Where do you sit?

Runners with a plan

If you are in Camp A, your weeks and your conversations are probably all centred around running at the moment. It’s a great place to be. Your goal will keep you focused, motivated and on the right track. You will learn so much about your body and your capabilities in the coming weeks. You will probably have a setback or two. That’s normal. Don’t panic and don’t wish the summer away. Enjoy every week of training because you won’t get this time back. Write down each week all you do as these memories will blur as the summer ends.

Summer fun runners

If you are in Camp B and happy to have a more carefree running summer, the struggle to keep up a routine might be a little harder than you imagined. It’s interesting that the runners without a clear plan often need more coaching and support. Without the challenge of a longer distance or the deadline of a race, it’s easy to make excuses and accept summer invitations in the timeslots where running would normally sit. The intention to have a fun summer of running doesn’t just mean it will happen. We need to plan it too. We have to create to situations that will bring about the summer running memories we so want to create.

Let me share with you the advice I give my runners who are looking for a summer to remember.

1) Leave your watch at home: there is always a temptation to check your pace and put pressure on yourself to run faster. With higher temperatures most of us do find running harder in summer. So avoid that extra stress of keeping up with the clock and leave the watch at home. Choose to look around you instead. You will be amazed at what you might notice. A few extra minutes running your usual route might be just what you need.

2) Get up early: most summer invitations tend to be in the afternoon and evening. How nice would it be to have your run done and still be able to enjoy the rest of the temptations that the summer has to offer. With glorious bright mornings and the stillness on our usual busy paths, running in the morning is a wonderful way to start your day. Don’t expect to break any speed records. Take your time to warm up and wake up and you will return ready for your day ahead.

3) Make a gourmet date: arrange to meet someone for a run as well as the afterparty. Whether it’s an evening jog followed by an ice cream, a morning run before breakfast together or a weekend wander finishing in a farmers’ market, the reward at the finish line as well as the company en route will make you forget you are even running at all. Try going somewhere different from your usual route and be a running tourist if you can.

4) One parkrun a month: a parkrun is always a good way of assessing your running fitness. Once a month take yourself out of your comfort zone and go for it. It’s not important how quick you run, what is important is that you are noticing the direction your running is going month on month. Often this monthly check-in is just what we need to help us get motivated to make parkrun feel more comfortable. For the summer tourist in you, make a Saturday running adventure and try out a new parkrun.

5) Give yourself a break: many of my summer runs have stops on the way to admire views, take photos and maybe even have a sneaky sit down on a park bench. There is nothing wrong with this. Enjoy your time on your run rather than rushing to the finish. Walk when you want to. Remember your goal is to enjoy the summer of running. You make your own rules. If you are on holiday and it is too hot to run, don’t run because you feel you “have to”. Be sensible.

6) Get inspired: maintaining a fun summer of running isn’t just about running miles. It’s about building motivation, community and appreciating how lucky we are to be able to run. The inspiration and support can come from many places. When running is not the right option, you have my permission to skip a run and watch a running documentary on Netflix, volunteer or spectate at a running event or indeed read a good running book. I could give you a recommendation on that one.

Avoid another comeback

There is a third type of summer runner out there but I generally don’t get to meet them until September. In Camp C are the runners who had great intentions of setting a running goal for the summer but never got around to working out what it was. So instead they ended up not running much at all. This gang often ends up feeling guilty and apprehensive about the autumn comeback to running or worse and end up giving up on running for longer.

Lose the guilt

Don’t spend the rest of the summer frustrated at the speed at which the summer weeks are flying back. Look forward instead of back. Start planning. What can you do this week to create a nice summer running session. Pick one of my tips above and get started. Five weeks of summer still remain and you can sneak yourself back into Camp B and maybe even Camp A with the right goal and a leisurely push in the right direction.

– Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie. Mary’s new book Get Running published by Gill Books is out now.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
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Best of luck!

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