Editor’s note: this post originally appeared here in July 2014. While I’m unfortunately not running as I was back in summer of ’14 (I’m currently resting and healing from a running injury), I found motivation in this post. I hope you do, too. ~MRG
Some runners thrive come June, July and August – they sign on for lots of races, run consistently, and perhaps most admirably, can handle heat well (and absolutely welcome it over cold and snow).
I don’t count myself among this group.
But that just might be changing. A little.
OK, so I may never prefer a humid, sticky run over a cool, even cold, run. I heat up fast, so fall and winter runs suit me very well, especially when I’m going long and training for a half marathon or marathon. Sunshine is great, of course, but overcast is just as good, sometimes better, and I truly love logging miles on snow-blanketed roads, especially the morning after fresh powder coats everything in sight.
But this summer, I am – if I do say so myself – embracing and kinda killing the whole summer running thing. I have been heading out on the roads and trails consistently (i.e. not hitting snooze nearly as much as I have during previous summers), I’ve got a few great races lined up, and I’m just having FUN with my running. (I’m still sweating buckets each and every steamy run, but that’s OK. That’s just me.)
Summer is a favorite time of year for me – for playing. Spending time at the beach, riding bikes, camping, staying up late around bonfires… Everything we all love doing here in Michigan. This summer, though, I wanted to maintain my fitness as well as broaden it (more cycling, more swimming). This is what I’ve found is helping me achieve this:
Just-as-dedicated friends willing to run (and bike) with me.
Pam and I agreed: meeting at 5:30 a.m. on summer mornings for a run seems a bit crazy. But with our work and family schedules – she has three kids like me and also is a personal trainer with mornings packed with clients – we knew this o’dark thirty workout would be our best bet. Plus, we’d help hold each other accountable and get our sweat on early on in the day. It’s not easy getting myself out of bed at 5 a.m. on these mornings I meet Pam – I pretty much roll out of bed and onto the floor, where my running clothes are laid out. I am half asleep as I get dressed. But I swear, by the time I strap on my Garmin, take a few sips of coffee and hit my driveway, I am just fine. I am grateful I’m up and moving. We run anywhere from 4 to 7 miles on these mornings 1-2 times a week. One morning recently we decided to hop on our road bikes instead, which was a fun switch. Other mornings I may meet up with Katie, who prefers later starts to her runs; sometimes these mid-morning times fit perfectly (and are a nice break) between my work and other obligations.
Sunrises (and sunsets) in summer are magical.
We all know this – who doesn’t love soaking up these scenes, especially at our beaches? – but experiencing them while running is just spectacular. Sometimes cloud cover prevents a truly awe-inspiring sunrise, but then there are those mornings…the orange steaks cut across the sky, appearing as you crest a hill and come to a clearing in the woods … and wow. Or if you’re more of an at-dusk kind of runner (my friend Erin loves this time of day for her runs), a sunset’s hues of pink, red, even purple, can stop you right in your tracks. I’ve thought many times how lucky we are to witness these moments because we’re runners, because we made the choice to just go.
A community filled with an increasing number of healthy, active people.
Walkers, cyclists, runners – there are a lot of them here in Traverse City. And more than ever, it seems. Our town has become known for lots of things – cherries, of course, and craft beer, great local food — and I’d add a great place to live an active outdoor lifestyle. I’m guessing your Michigan community is similar – our state just has so much to offer, and it seems more of us are recognizing how we can make the most of living here through our outdoor pursuits. It’s incredibly motivating, too, to see so many others out and about. I cross paths with mountain bikers on the Vasa Trail, nod hello to my fellow road cyclists when I’m zipping through town, and wave hello to countless runners and walkers as I’m logging miles along the water and through downtown. I’m especially grateful for a community that encourages its youth to get outside, and this summer I’m witnessing it close-up as Andrew participates in a summer running program offered by his public school. He runs three mornings a week, starting at a park at the base of Old Mission Peninsula. They’ll do an out-and-back along West Bay, passing other packs of young runners along the way, and finish at the park beach, usually walking right into the water to cool down and recover.
Taking cross-training more seriously.
I’d like to think that I’ve been good about cross-training over the years – I’ve done yoga at times, and as I’ve shared here many times, I’m a big proponent of Pilates – but it’s really only been in the past year or two that I’ve incorporated what I know is a more well-rounded amount of cross-training. I now bike more often, and I’m slowly building up on my swimming skills (the most humbling of experiences). I know this is helping strengthen my body, which in turn only benefits my running. And the more I do these things, the more I’m actually enjoying them, too. For the longest time I wondered if I’d ever call myself a cyclist – that still seems a little strange to even say – but just as anyone who runs is a runner, anyone who cycles is a cyclist. I don’t need to be some awesome and amazing cycle queen – I can just be me, a girl who gets on the bike and rides the best she can. Same with swimming. I don’t need to be fast (or especially coordinated, which I am not!). I just need to keep moving in different ways. And rest when my body tells me to rest.
How is your summer running going? What helps you stay on track? Are you doing anything differently with your outdoor activities this year compared to past summers?