Summer running comes with its own set of enjoyments and challenges: the weather’s beautiful, but the heat can also make you feel extremely fatigued and as if you’re going to suffocate. After picking up amateur running during my senior year of high school, I’ve had a few years to figure out what exactly works best for me. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your summer routine.
Location. I’ve gone through phases of jogging outside and at the gym. It’s summer, so you might as well enjoy the warmth while you can. Running outside also makes your body work a little harder since you’re countering hills and occasional wind resistance. It also helps your running posture, since treadmills usually cause you to limit your stride. Personally, I enjoy the freedom of varying my speeds depending on how I feel at a particular point in the run, which is harder to do on a machine.
Time of Day. Early morning is my favorite time for a run, particularly in the summer, for a few reasons. First, the temperatures are much cooler, so on hot and humid days, it’s not as daunting to set out for a workout. Secondly, a morning run can act as a source of natural caffeine to wake you up and keep you energetic for the rest of the morning, if not the rest of the day.
Energy. Running first thing in the morning can leave you feeling a bit fatigued since you’re working out on an empty stomach, so a quick pre-run granola bar or snack can give you that energy boost. More importantly, make sure to fill up on carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes after your run, to help your muscles recover. Good sources include milk, bagels, energy bars (Clif bar or PowerBar), soy products, trail mix and yogurt.
Sun Protection. When you’re out for a 30-60 minute run, the sun can be quite damaging. During the summer especially, I usually get really noticeable tan lines from my shorts, tank top and socks. Since it’s really not that attractive, make sure to use water-proof and sweat-proof sun block on your body and face, and wear a hat to protect your face from burning if your skin is extra sensitive.
Playlist. While not everyone enjoys plugging into their iPods during a workout, an upbeat song can add a kick to your routine and give you that extra adrenaline rush throughout your run. Some fun summer tracks: “Summerboy” by Lady Gaga, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and “Ray of Light” cover by Natasha Bedingfield.
Photo from Races in Places