Summertime running is my favorite. I love when it’s warm out. I love being able to put on a tank top and shorts and just head out in any direction. Winter running, while badass in itself, is a whole thing. There’s the layers, and the clothes, and the ice and snow, and the planning of the routes, and the blah, blah, blah…
Needless to say, I’m pretty ecstatic that it’s about to be summertime. As I mentioned last week, it’s important to follow some simple steps to keep yourself healthy and happy running through the summer. Today I’m here to tell you about some awesome ways to take advantage of summer running.
Summertime is a great time of year to tackle some speed workouts and also run in places you don’t normally get to see. The track is clear of all snow, ice, and other winter-related debris, school is out so the track won’t be full of people, and doing speed work is a great way to change up your usual routine. And if you’re not hitting the track, the trails and hills are beautiful and full of foliage, wildflowers, birds, and all sorts of other wildlife.
Check out some of my favorite summertime workouts to keep things fresh and fun!
Fun and Fresh Summertime Workouts
Fartleks are the easiest — and sometimes even the most fun — of all speed workouts. And you don’t necessarily need to hit the track to achieve a fun fartlek run. Fartlek means “speed play” and that’s exactly what it is. Fartleks can be as structured or as unstructured as you’d like, but usually fall more toward the “unstructured” side.
A fun fartlek run for beginners is the mailbox game. I like to have my athletes play the mailbox game every now and again to keep things fresh and fun. How to do it: start with a mile warm-up so as not to jumpstart your muscles and cause injury. Then pick a mailbox and sprint from the first mailbox to the next. For the next set, run at recovery pace. Pick up the speed again for the next set. And so on and so forth. Try to do this fartlek for 20-30 minutes, and then cool down with a mile at a slower pace.
Strides are pretty fun, too. They’re similar to fartlek running but with a little more structure. Stride workouts should be done in repetitions of about 6 to 10. One of my personal favorite stride workouts are to run fast on the straights of the track, and to walk or jog the curves. Strides promote good running form and they’re fun. You can do them on the track or even on your neighborhood streets.
Tempo runs are really good to improve your lactate threshold but they can be tough. They’re fun if you like tough running. An effective tempo run is run at 10K race pace, or right around it. You shouldn’t be able to talk through it but it’s not 5K race pace. I usually give my athletes a straight tempo run — warm up for a mile or two, then 3-4 miles at tempo pace, and then a mile cool down — but my coach has been giving me interval tempo runs which are also fun. But again, tempo runs are only fun if you like tough running.
Intervals are one of my favorite speed workouts. Traditionally, they vary in length — anywhere from 200m to 1600m — and depend on what you’re training for. Intervals generally aren’t recommended for beginners but they’re useful in building mental toughness as well as fine tuning race pace. I personally love 400m intervals. I get to run fast but then I get to recover. It’s a win-win! Intervals are best done on a track because there’s no guesswork of how far each repetition is, but they can be done on the road or sidewalk in a pinch.
I mentioned trail running last week and I’m mentioning it again today. Why? Because it’s a great change of scenery for many of us. Spring and fall training for the majority of runners is mostly done on roads and sidewalks. During the summer months after spring training is finished and before fall training ramps up is a perfect time to refresh your runs with new scenery, new smells, and new sounds. If you do decide to hit the trails and you’re primarily a road runner, just remember to go out for time instead of distance. Trail running tends to be a little slower than road running.
Summertime is also a great time to hire a running coach. Maybe you just finished a tough spring racing season and are looking to improve your time and PR come fall. Or perhaps you struggled with your winter and early spring training and you need some encouragement to either keep going or change things up going forward. There are lots of reasons to hire a running coach. Now may be the time to take stock and see if a running coach is for you.
I highly recommend changing up your day-to-day routine and incorporating all these different types of runs. It’ll keep things interesting, keep your runs fresh, and you’ll have tons of fun! And summer is the perfect time to do so.
TALK TO ME!
What’s your favorite kind of running?
When you need a change of pace or scenery, what’s your go-to workout?