Finding it tough to get out for the run this summer? When summer settles in, many can find that their motivation is completely zapped. If a runner misses the early morning hours when the temperatures are at their lowest, the mid day heat can make for unpleasant running conditions. To add to that, spring races are in the past and the fall race on the calendar can feel a long way away. It’s no wonder barbecue parties, weekend road trips and beach time can take over the schedule. It’s common for people to fall into the “summer blahs” at this time. So what do you do about it?
Sports psychologist, Kim Dawson works with athletes of all abilities including some of Canada’s best runners. She has some tips for those who are feeling that the running is getting a little stagnant right now.
Don’t let it turn into burnout.
“You don’t want to fight against the blahs. If you have them, it means you’re mentally stale,” says Dawson noting that it can also progress to burnout quite quickly. “The only course of action is to take time away from it,” she says. If it turns into burnout, the problem will become a harder one to solve. Catching it quickly and changing things up will have benefits down the road. This could mean taking a short break or getting a running partner and making it social instead of competitive this summer. Use your running in a different way now and see results as the summer continues.
Take a break.
If a recreational runner is in the middle of burnout, a longer break might be in order. If it’s just not working, accept that this is a dull period and that time off may be the best solution. “No one told you that you have to run this summer. There are lots of ways to move your body: yoga, mountain bike, road bike, swim,” says Dawson. “You can use cross training to mentally stimulate yourself.” By doing that, running will become more appealing a few weeks down the road and you won’t sacrifice fitness.
Change your thinking.
If a runner decides to take some time off, the key is not to see it as a failure. That’s hard especially for the type A personality runner. Changing the viewpoint can go a long way in this case. For example, don’t see it as dropping out of running, see it as dropping into something else, says Dawson.
Be flexible with your scheduling.
In the summer, there are far more distractions than there are in the winter. Events with families, potluck dinners and weekends away can seem to fill up the time. Dawson suggests being flexible with that. Take a look at the schedule every week, let those events be a priority but plan the run around everything else so you don’t miss out. “Make it work for you to enhance your life, not take something away,” says Dawson. When it’s on the calendar though, do it. Even if you’re not feeling it when the time comes, do it anyway. You allow your flexibility once and that was with the planning.
Find a new motivation.
“If it’s a motivation issue, change the motivation,” says Dawson. That could mean going to your favourite coffee shop afterwards, she says. Or, better yet, learn to better appreciate the feeling of satisfaction for getting the workout done.