7 Ways to be a Healthier, Happier Runner this Summer
I know what you’re thinking: I’m a runner, I am healthy! But even the best runners fall victim to bad habits. Take for example the summer I decided, on a whim, to register for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. I was neither in shape for a marathon, nor was I particularly good at waking up early. The result? I ran 6 days a week in the middle of the day for a month, promptly became injured and sick, and crawled my way to the finish line a few months later.
But stupid decisions and humidity aren’t the only things that can make this season difficult. Summer can be especially challenging if you’re juggling training, vacation, and have the kids home from school, forcing you to put easily overlooked things on the back burner. We’ve got a little over a month left of this glorious season of summer, so let’s enjoy it!
The following (no-brainer) tips will help make August the happiest and healthiest summer month:
and yes apply it everywhere. Even when it’s cloudy, UV rays can burn your skin and put you at risk for things like skin cancer, yikes! The safest way to approach the summer sun? Sunscreen. Check out our review of Beyond Coastal Sunscreen or find our favorites in our summer gear guide.
and I don’t mean sit in front of the air conditioner. If you can, run during the cooler parts of the day in the early morning or evening, and pick shaded, covered routes to avoid sun exposure. In Minneapolis, the paths along West River Pkwy, Minnehaha Pkwy, and the Chain of Lakes are decently shaded, and have water fountains, too.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
This is a no brainer, but it’s really important. Aim to drink at least one full glass of water before and after your run, and be sure to drink water consistently throughout the day. If you’re feeling tired, crampy, or sick on an otherwise decent run, you’re not drinking enough! Check out our primer on hydration for more tips.
Make time for the little things
like core and injury prevention work, foam rolling, and stretching. It’s easy to not make time for these things, but if you’re in between training cycles (or better yet, if you’re in a training cycle) now is the perfect time to re-establish healthy habits. Consistent core work, foam rolling, and stretching will help to prevent injuries and keep you healthy and happy all summer long. I’m currently challenging myself to do the Dirty Dozen core routine three times a week. It is tough, but I’m already seeing results. This easy core strengthening workout written by Jenna is also great!
Rest, or better yet, take time off!
I’m currently in between training cycles right now and the one thing my coach specially told me to do was to TAKE TIME OFF! This means no speed workouts, no races (I may have broken this rule, oops!), and only easy paced runs. Races and hard efforts can really damage the body, and rest is important for recovery and repair. If you’re in between things, give yourself permission to not run. Focus on other activities (how about that core work?) and allow yourself to truly reset before attempting another training cycle. Not resting will result in overtraining.
Mind the Weather
specifically the humidity and dew point. As summer waxes on, it’s important to mind not only the temperature outside, but also the humidity. (Minnesota is notorious for hot and humid summers!) Your core body temperature naturally rises as you run, producing sweat to form and evaporate to cool you down. But humidity (excess moisture in the air) prevents sweat from evaporating and can cause your body to overheat and put you in danger of heat stroke. If humidity reaches percentages higher than 70, consider bumping your run to a different time of day, or at least gulping down another glass of water. Oh and watch out for summer thunderstorms, too!
Another no-brainer, but you would be shocked at the number of runners who don’t make time to cross-train. (Check out a few summer cross-training ideas by Molly!) Summer is easily the best time of year to participate in other activities, so get out your bike, find your swimming goggles, and sign up for that yoga class. Your body will thank you!
Even though the tips above are somewhat common sense, I challenge you to remember and make time for each and every one of them this month. The worst that could happen? You’ll become the happiest and healthiest runner yet!