Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tips to Beat the Summer Running Slump

I bet a lot of you can relate to the summer running slump - a sudden loss in motivation for your training. Runners lose motivation for any number of reasons, but the mid-summer slump is usually related to one of these:

- training in the heat and humidity is hard
- training cycles can be long and tedious
- you're not seeing the results you want
- you're injured or exhausted
- you got off track with your training
- you just don't have time

If that sounds like you, don't worry: you can always get back on track with your racing goals. Here are ten ways to add some zip back into your step as you chase down those fall race goals.

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  1. Spice up your training wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to add some pizzazz to your running gear. Find a few items that make you feel confident, fast, and strong- think neon! You’re more likely to put the workout gear on if it makes you feel good. You're more likely to go through with your workout if you are dressed for it!
  2. Reevaluate your race goals. The first step to competing well is to have realistic race expectations. If you got off track with your training or you don't have enough time to train properly, revisit your original goals. If you have to adjust your expectations, do so. You won't enjoy your racing experience if you come up short of a goal and feel defeated. Step it up for the next race!
  3. Consider your pace. Many runners feel defeated or become injured if they try to do too much too soon. You should start your training slowly and build up gradually. The rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by 10% every week. Listen to your body to decide when you can push a little harder or when you should pull back. If you're feeling warn down and training is no longer enjoyable, this is probably your problem.
  4. Keep track of your training. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a coach, no one is going to keep you accountable for your own training. Whether you use a new app or go old-school with a notebook & pen, the goal is the same: record your workouts! Make it a habit! DailyMile is great, because there is a great sense of community and an it is an easy tool for tracking your progress.
  5. Find a workout buddy. Working out alone is fine, but running with a partner will help to keep you motivated. You are less likely to skip a workout if you have plans with a partner or running group. It is also awesome to share your enthusiasm and goals with like-minded people. One of my favorite aspects of training is the great running community I have met - in real life and online.
  6. Add variety to your workouts. Too many people think that training for a race just means running countless miles. BORING. While it is important to build a strong mileage base, you should also incorporate other physical activities. Try to build strength and speed workouts into each week. Don’t forget your other favorite physical activities count toward your overall fitness level. Zumba on the beach? Yes! Tennis doubles? You bet!
  7. Rest and recovery are necessary. During any training cycle, remember to give your body the proper recovery time. Rest is as important as the workouts, because recovery is where our bodies build muscle and strength. If you deny your body time for repair, you risk injury and exhaustion. Injury and exhaustion are discouraging barriers to achieving your fall race goals. Rest up for peak performance!
  8. Reward yourself for achieving your goals. Being healthy is a huge incentive for getting active, but try to think of other ways to reward yourself for your hard work. I like to set weekly goals with small weekly rewards. Try to avoid making food your reward; instead, treat yourself to an experience. Go see a movie. Take a day hiking trip. My personal reward is to pay myself fifty cents for every mile I ran that week. I set up a “Runner’s Savings Account” and at the end of the year, I have a big reward reflecting all of my effort. 
  9. Beat the heat. Hot and humid conditions are probably the top reason for skipping workouts in the summer, but there are ways to work with or around the weather! First and foremost, you must stay properly hydrated. WATER, WATER, WATER. Secondly, adjust your pace. If it is too hot for your tempo run, slow down or take it inside. Start your day with an early morning run to avoid midday heat. Don't let the season's temps totally derail your training by using it as an excuse for a day off.
  10. Remember why you started training in the first place. Training cycles are long and hard. It is easy to forget why you're doing all the work in the first place. Try to remember how you felt when you started - when you signed up for your race - when you told everyone about your goals. You felt excited and motivated! You made a commitment to your future self when you signed up for the race; keep your focus and have some fun along the way. You'll thank yourself on race day!
What are YOUR tips for staying motivated through the summer training season?

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that I have been feeling a little lazy lately. I like to read books about running when I need some extra motivation!