Summer running….honestly for me, it is a struggle.  I probably should have asked Emily Speed to write this post since she is a committed summer runner.  But, I figured if you’re reading this, you are probably like me.  You and summer running might not have a good history.

We live in Florida.  It’s hot, it’s humid, and every year, I find it tough to stay motivated to run from May – August.  I come off of the Mt. Cheaha 50K feeling great and extra motivated, and I tell myself every summer that this year will be different.  I am going to run this summer.  And then, every year, I hang up my running shoes, and outside of my runs at Fixed on Fitness, I don’t hit the road.  This year, I’ve found a few tricks to help keep me going as the temps rise.

#1 – Change the Story

You will see a post on changing the story and the script that you have written for yourself soon, but this year, I had to change my story.  See, I have {for years} just accepted the fact that I don’t run in the summer.  I’ve tried to run, but I don’t, and the summer hiatus from running has become my story.  Just like falling into the trap of telling yourself that you eat clean all week, but you always eat junk on the weekends, I have told myself that I just don’t run in the summer.  It has become my story, and I’ve stuck to it.

Well, this year, I’ve decided to rewrite the story.  Last summer has no impact on this summer.  I have the ability to change the script.  All it takes is a little action on my part.  That action started with a commitment to just put my shoes on and walk out the door.  No whining, no excuses.  The commitment on my part isn’t big.  It’s just one small choice to change the story.

What story have you told yourself?  If it needs to change, change it!

#2 – Lose your Expectations

Expectations in general are dangerous.  If you have been through our FOF Health Coaching program, you’ve heard all about the dangers of expectations.  When it comes to running, I tend to carry an expectation of how the run will be.  In my head, I understand that it’s hot and humid, but I also tend to expect a great run every single time I put my shoes on.  I know this isn’t reality, but I’ve allowed my expectations to help me justify excuses and discourage me.

When it comes to removing expectations, the first thing that has to go for me is my watch.  Nothing is more discouraging to me than to hear the mile beep, look down, and realize I am running an 11:00 per mile pace, when I feel like I am literally dying.  I find myself immediately defeated, and the story of how hard this run is starts playing in my head.  When I don’t have my watch and I can’t see my pace, I find myself relaxed, in blissful ignorance of the fact that I’m moving at turtle speed.  I can focus on the fact that I am out there, taking action, doing something, and not on the fact that my pace is 3 minutes slower than it is when I’m in prime running condition and the weather is cool and brisk.

Drop the expectations.  Enjoy the run.  See how you feel.

#3 – Grab some Tunes

I typically don’t run to music.  In fact, if you know me, you know that I rarely run alone, so I never have a need for music.  I have conversation, and can run for miles being distracted by my running partners.  Well, in the summer, I am left to solo running for the most part.  I work a lot in the summer, so I try to commit the weekends to hanging out with the kids instead of spending the first few hours of my Saturday running.  This leaves me to very random running times, and I basically  have to slug through the neighborhood.  Enter…music.

For me, running solo on the trail {my happy place…but not in the summer with the yellow flies} is my quiet time.  I have time for prayer, reflection, and just an appreciation for nature.  I tried this option on the road, but it just doesn’t work as well for me.  Since quiet time and listening to my heavy breathing aren’t an option on the road, I’ve resorted to music if I don’t have a running partner.  My playlist is completely random and contains everything from praise and worship music to Journey to Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I’ve linked to my current favorite playlist here.

Dig out your headphones.  Find some music that motivates you.  Go to town.

#4 – Find a Reward

I am very motivated by a reward system.  I don’t reward myself with food.   That’s another blog post.  But, I do love some coffee.  If I’m meeting friends to run, the conversation is enough of a motivator, but we often grab a delicious cup of black gold after our run, which makes me want to show up even more.  If it’s a Wednesday morning, and I am slugging through the neighborhood, I’ve found that grinding and brewing a special cup of coffee for myself when I get home can help get me out of bed and take that first step.  We have a guy that works out with us at Bayview that roasts some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.  His brand is First Settlement Roasters, and the coffee is straight amazing!  If I don’t have any of Jim’s coffee beans on hand, and I run to Coffee Break and grab a bag of Drowsy Poet Costa Rican coffee (thanks Erica for that suggestion).  For me, something about that special cup gives me a little extra motivation.

Maybe you aren’t a coffee fan (I really can’t imagine).  Think about something very simple that you enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or really anything out of the ordinary.  Just find something a little extra that you like, and use it to help motivate you on your run.

#5 – Find a Course you Like and Pay Attention

Enjoying where I am running can make all the difference for me.  I really enjoy running the golf course in my neighborhood when I get up early, but I also have found a few other routes that I know I enjoy.  I like to run hills, so sometimes, I love just a short hill repeat route.  Maybe there is a house with a beautiful yard, a cute dog that’s always outside, a killer hill that you always feel amazing after you climb, or flowers that smell great in the spring…find a few things that you appreciate, and include them in your route.

Once you have your route, pay attention.  The simple act of paying attention to your surroundings can completely change your run.  This week, the birds were out like crazy, and I found myself completely distracted by them.  It made the time go faster.  I also ran into a turtle.  He was off in the distance, but I let myself stop and watch him for a minute (remember, I don’t run to a clock when it’s hot).  His pace looked much like mine felt…we had something in common.  Just simply noticing some wildlife and some flowers around me helped to lift my mood.

I love to be in nature, which is why I workout outside and run on the trail, but if you just take the time to look around, you can find some nature even if you are pounding the pavement.

Cheers to Summer Running

If you slug through the summer, I feel you.  Let’s make a commitment to make this summer different.  Let’s try to find some beauty in the process of running through the hot, humid weather.  Let’s focus on the wins.  Let’s set small, realistic goals and lose our expectations.  Grab your music, figure out a little extra something to motivate you, and hop on a route that you enjoy.

Cheers to lacing up those shoes, running some miles, and jumping into fall running ahead of the game ;0.

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