If you’re a competitor with a cross-country season coming up in the fall, you can’t afford to neglect the training opportunities of the summer months. In many cases, if you just stay disciplined enough to run regularly all summer long, you’ll have an edge when the season starts. Here are a few tips on how you can get in some serious training without it becoming a chore.
Take a Break
You spend most of September through May training and competing, so it’s totally reasonable to bookend your summer training with a week or two off to let your mind and body recover. Though it might be hard, take an entire week (or maybe even two if you’ve been nursing injuries or mental fatigue) away from running or training. This is a great time to plan a vacation, because you won’t have to worry about juggling training and your other vacay activities.
For most of us, summer brings at least a few weeks of pretty hot weather. Running early in the a.m. is a great way to beat the heat and reduce some of the dangers of running in hot weather. If you plan on hitting the pavement first thing in the morning, make sure to hydrate effectively the day before, so your body is equipped for your training session. If you’re a real early bird who’s out before the sun rises, make sure you have adequate reflective gear so motorists can see you.
Run with Friends
Round up a group of fellow runners or teammates and train together over the summer. It certainly doesn’t hurt if a few of these friends are faster than you are – that’s how you’ll get better. You can turn it into a social event by sharing a weekly run and then taking turns hosting a post-run BBQ. It’s a triple win: training run, bonding time and good eats.
Take an Active Vacation
Instead of trying to fit running into your vacation, plan a vacation around your runs. Choose a city or wilderness area you want to check out, and travel there with the intent of exploring on foot. If you’re a trail runner, try camping in a new spot, and kick off each day with a run to explore the nearby trails. If you prefer roads, head to a city and see what’s going on each morning when you run. It’s easy to note the places you’d like to check out again later in the day.
Who says games are only for kids? Pick up games like ultimate Frisbee and tag can be a great way to get in a little extra movement and socialize at the same time. Gather up a group of friends and pick a time and place to meet each week. Activities like these will help you relax and keep mental fatigue at bay so that you’re ready for more challenging workouts.
In addition to the suggestions we mention above, check out these training tips in the Runner’s World forum for some other perspectives on summer run workouts that can help you prepare for XC season.