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Summer Running Strategies

Summer is my favorite time of year.  The days are longer.  The sun shines.  Temps are usually higher. Lots of fresh produce is in season and the pace of life is usually a bit slower because the longer days allow me to spread my workload throughout the day.

However, even with all of the advantages summer brings, in order to get the most out of each day, one must plan and prepare for success.  Here are a few strategies for making the most of your summer:

Get up before the sun to get things done

Early mornings are usually the coolest time of day.  Get up early before the mercury rises and the rest of your responsibilities begin. Use the time on the run to gather your thoughts and prepare for success each day. Something about watching the sun rise while your blood is pumping gets the day started just right.

"There's a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it -- you can put yourself in the way of beauty." Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Photo: Anna Lee Landin

Waiting until after work when it is hotter often leaves one drained and hungry from the activities of the day and not all that excited about running. When the workout is scheduled in the evening and something comes up it is often the first thing to go, whereas if you make it a regular part of the morning routine you don't have to worry about as many other potential conflicts that could jeopardize your run.  

Drink a quart of water when you wake up

Jump start your metabolism and take the first step toward adequate hydration by drinking a quart of water when you wake up.  This is a lot of water to consume all at once, but after a good night's sleep without hydrating this is a quick and easy way to get you hydrated and ready to run. It won't take long for it to get into your system and flush out anything that could plug you up as you start your day.

Many water bottles come in 32 oz sizes.  Using them to measure the amount you consume is a great way of assuring you consume the right amount. If you drink this much water, you probably won't even need a cup of coffee to get things moving and you should be fine the first hour of the run without the need for additional water.  If you plan to run longer than an hour and you won't be passing any water along the route, bring a handheld water bottle with you.

Eat a Big Breakfast

After jump starting your metabolism and hydration with a morning run and a quart of water, continue to keep your resting metabolic rate up by eating a large, nutrient dense breakfast.  This will reduce your appetite and help you consume fewer total calories throughout the day.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day

Summer is harvest time for so many seasonal fruits and vegetables that it is actually possible to eat fresh, local fruits and veggies all day every day without getting sick of them.

Fresh Fruits & Veggies make any entree taste better
Photo by Anna Lee Landin
Blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, cherries, strawberries, plums, grapes, apples, spinach, chard, kale, radishes, corn, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and mint (I know it's not a fruit but it sure tastes good on fresh watermelon) are all in season during the summer and taste great just as they are and can make delicious smoothies or dried fruit snacks.

Moutwatering Watermelon Salad with fresh mint and feta cheese.
Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Not only do they pack a ton of essential vitamins and nutrients, they are also full of juice to keep you hydrated and healthy through the long days of summer.

Fresh Blueberries taste great on their own, in a fruit salad, or mixed in a smoothie.
Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Many of these products can be grown in personal gardens or purchased at local fruit stands or farmer's markets.

Carrots straight from the garden.  Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Run or bike commute

Many people spend hours each day sitting in traffic.  Rather than wasting that time, find ways to commute from place to place on foot or on a bike.  You may find that it takes just as long and you can often move faster than cars in heavy traffic.  This will also free up your schedule before and after work because you can get in much of your training volume on your way to and from work.  

Do second workout in air conditioning or in water

If you have the time, ability, and/or desire to add additional workout time to your schedule plan to do it inside or in water.  Take advantage of the air conditioning in homes, offices, and gyms or the healing and refreshing power of water by doing your second workout either inside or in the water. 

This is another way to keep your resting metabolic rate high while keeping you cool.

Go to bed early

If you will be waking up early be sure to get to bed early.  Most people do the bulk of their unhealthy eating after dark, after dinner and right before bed.  This usually causes us to go to bed even later as the food settles.  This leaves junk food in our guts without giving it time to digest, meaning it will probably hit us on our run in the morning.  

However, all of this can be avoided - the binge eating and the late nights - if we simply eat dinner at a regular time (before 7:00 pm) and then use the next couple of hours to let it digest and unwind from the day.  

When we wait to work out after work we often eat dinner much later and then need to take additional time to cool off from the workout.  This keeps us up later - often causing us to eat even more to pass the time - and keeps us away from family, friends, and opportunities to relax at the end of the day.

Implement these simple strategies in your daily routine and you'll find that summer is a great time to train and make gains in your fitness and overall well being.  


  1. Get up before the sun to get things done - check (already a morning runner)
    Drink a quart of water when you wake up - starting tomorrow
    Eat a Big Breakfast - check
    Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day - check
    Run or bike commute - I probably should, if I had a shower at work
    Do second workout in air conditioning or in water - hmmm, I guess hot yoga doesn't count
    Go to bed early - working on it (it is 11:17PM now, so I guess I missed it tonight)

    Jacob, thanks for all the great words of advice.

    1. Thanks for reading, Laurenti! All the best in your future endeavors. I've found that Nathan Shower Wipes work pretty well if I don't have to commute too far.

      Hot yoga is fine. Many people complain about the heat zapping their energy and use it as an excuse to not work out. The goal is to move and get things moving so that you feel good all day long.