It’s finally summer! Those of us tied to our homes because of school schedules or wintery weather or the short daylight hours are finally free! It is time…to get up + get out. There’s something exciting + motivating about this time of year. There is so much to see + do when the snow clears + the remote mountain roads open up. It is time…to pack up the car + find new trails.
This is all very exciting as there is so much to see + do. However, if you have a fall race on the schedule [most of us do — just like summer is prime travel time, fall is prime racing time] you are creeping up on your peak weeks of training. How are you going to balance exploring the trails with your kids + non-runner friends while keeping up with your training mileage?
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to tackle the weekend together, hitting the bull’s eye of everyone’s goals. Maybe you’ll go run while the kids hang with dad or friends. Or you’ll get to run trails while a few friends wrangle mountain bikes. Better yet, you’ll work some speed work or hill repeats into a hike with your family. It’s a tricky balance + so hard to find.
So, how do you find the motivation to get yourself out there + train, even when it isn’t the easy thing to do? Very, very carefully…or with complete abandon. Honestly, it really depends upon what works best for you. Until you find your equilibrium, here’s a few tips to get your out there!
Find a New Trail
This seems like a no brainer…a new trail is something new to get excited about. Of course, a new trail also means you’re taking on new risks [getting lost, unknown terrain, new trailhead, mystery water sources, etc]. Those risks can be quick to deter you from exploring. As soon as you realize this + accept this you can kick those excuses in the tush + get outside!
If you’re not sure where to start hit up your other trail friends for trail suggestions. Better yet, ask them to take you on a quick tour of some of their favorite trails — you’ll get to see a new trail through the eyes of someone who has already fallen in love with it!
Don’t let the “night owl” or “it’s too hard” excuse stop you here. Get up + get out. Even if it isn’t easy [it will never *always* be easy, even for the earliest of early birds], do it! Get yourself up with the sun + start your day off on the right [then the left, then the right…] foot! Either head out your front door or drive off to a distant trailhead, just get outside + into the fresh morning air.
The biggest perk to taking on the day early is the fact you’ll return home energized + ready to take on the rest of the day. Moreover, you’ll have blown the “oh, I need to go run” cloud far, far away from your day. If you have a family, this also gives you the opportunity to get your run done while they’re still sleeping — meaning you’re not missing out on any family time! It also gives you an excuse to nap with the kids [or without, who are we to judge!?].
Tag Team Your Weekends
One of the hardest parts of peak week training is the time it takes. Even if you don’t have a family begging for your attention, you do have friends with brunch plans + camping trips + all of the fun things that don’t require running shoes. It can be really hard to pick running over anything your friends are doing [trust me, I know…it’s why I ditched running for the winter]. That said, if you have big race goals, running is going to take up a LOT of your weekends.
Rather than ditch your friends or family, try to coordinate your running with their activities. You’ll find hundreds of articles with ideas on how to do this…but do whatever works best for you. If you’re not into the suggestions you see online, make up your own. Combine this idea with the new trails + early mornings. Go camping in a National Forest or on BLM land you + your friends/family have never visited before then head out for an early run, getting back just in time for breakfast around a campfire. It’s not perfect, but you’ll be able to find some sort of balance between training + fun. Hopefully.
Make the Most of Downtime
As someone who truly loves her downtime…this one means the most to me. Take your downtime seriously. If you’re body or brain are asking for an afternoon of popcorn + Netflix, give in! Do not guilt yourself into ab work or talk yourself into “just a short run.” Embrace the lazy, let your soul rejuvenate + take on tomorrow as a whole new day. More importantly, make sure you’re actually enjoying your downtime.
Don’t skip a run just because it’s raining out; do skip a run if it’s raining out + your kids *really* wants to build a blanket fort. Don’t flop on the couch with Netflix just because putting on your shoes is too much work; do curl up with a re-run marathon + cookie dough while catching up with a friend.
Some people may view this as being weak or unmotivated. I beg to differ. You NEED downtime. Everyone does. How you recoup from training is personal to you + you should never feel guilty about it. Any professional or successful runner will tell you it’s the non-run days that end up making or breaking a season. Don’t be too stubborn to let yourself mellow out. More so, it is completely okay if it’s your brain that needs a breather before your body! Trail running is mental, too.
Now, with all of that said — get yourself outside + run through summer! These are all just quick tips + tricks to get you thinking. None of them are foolproof + all of them can be tweaked or personalized to fit your life. Happy wandering!