Amanda Loudin

Written by Amanda Loudin


5 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Summer Racing Season

We have a few more weeks of somewhat pleasant running weather before the temperatures really soar and we start to question why we were so excited for the summer running season.

We start to dream of snow and cooler weather; runners are never happy!

For most people, if summer is already here, the bulk of racing season is approaching, too. If you want to get the most out of it, you need to have a plan.

This is true for any runner, but especially for masters runners.

Gone are the days where we could jump into races on a whim. I know in my younger years I would easily throw an occasional 5k or 10k onto the schedule without much thought.

Today, however, I am much less likely to try that unless it’s not going to be a full effort. I’m all about self preservation at this stage, ensuring I’m not overdoing distance or speed and making rest a core competency.

Let’s break a summer down, then, and make the most of the high season of racing.

Road racing in the summer CAN be fun, but it can be miserable for runners. Here's a helpful guide of how to enjoy your summer running, and suggestions of which races are good ones to try.

How Can I Plan Out My Racing Schedule This Summer?

Your longevity as a runner lives and dies based on your ability to prevent injury and be smart with your running decisions. It determines if you will be able to continue running well into your 70s, 80s, even 90s, or if you are a ticking time bomb who should expect any run to be their last. Knowing how to plan a racing season, especially in the summer is key as a masters runner.

Here are 5 ways masters runners can make the most out of a summer season, without risking it all

Set some goals

Before you can start looking at the available races in your area—or further afield if you choose—you need to nail down what your goals are for the remainder of the year.

If you have a fall 26.2 on your marathon training schedule, for instance, you might want to limit your late summer racing to a half marathon that can serve as a tune up race or gauge of fitness.

If your goal this summer or heading into fall is a half marathon or shorter, then you can consider more races during this period.

Consider how any summer races might set you up for meeting your biggest goals for the year.

Summer, because of it’s heat, isn’t likely to be the time of year when you will hit PRs, if you are aiming for them.

What’s the bottom line?

Consider summer racing supplementary to your biggest goals, which I’m guessing are among your fall plans.

Consider the heat

Unless you live somewhere very cool—or in the Southern Hemisphere—summer is hot and humid.

Heat, as you may well know, is not a masters runner’s friend. We don’t manage it as effectively as we once did. And the longer we run, the hotter we get.

For racing, then, focus your summer events on shorter distances.

This is an ideal time to build a little speed with 5ks and 10ks, the former of which can be found locally to most runners on any given weekend. While the odds don’t favor a PR, you can clock a decent time at these shorter distances because you will be over and out quickly.

You’ll come out the other end of summer stronger for these efforts, too.

What’s the bottom line?

Use the extreme heat as a time to get in the short, quick workouts that will prepare you for future racing

Family time

Most masters runners have family vacations planned in the summer since this is when their kids’ (or grandkids) schedules are freed up.

If you want to keep the family happy, then, put that trip on the schedule first, then plan your races around it. There’s also the possibility of combining the two.

I have often looked at local race schedules in destinations where I am headed.

Provided it’s not a long race, I’ll often sneak away on an early morning to race in our vacation locale. I’ve raced this way in the Adirondack Mountains, Miami, Palm Springs, and even Australia. It’s almost a given that I will find a 5k at the Jersey shore each year when we visit.

Over the past few years, in fact, my entire family has joined me in this.  If your kids are old enough and they like to run, make it a family affair.

What’s the bottom line?

Find fun ways to combine your vacations, family, and running.

Consider a short break

Yes, you read that right.

Summer can also be a good time to dial back in your racing, if you so desire.

Think about it—by the time June rolls around you’ve been training hard for several months. You likely have big fall racing plans. Summer is hot and sometimes not so fun for running. Consider a week or two of little to no running.

If that idea makes you blanche, try a slightly different approach.

Rather than full on training all the way through the hot months, spend a couple of weeks just running easy, with no GPS watch attached.

Take speedwork off the schedule for those couple of weeks.

Just get out, run easy and with no agenda. Your legs, as well as your mind, will be refreshed and ready to get back to business in time to push on through to the fall goal races.

What’s the bottom line?

Summer running can be miserable, especially for masters. Use this time to dial back the intensity, and have fun with it!

Consider a tri

Another option for summer is triathlon. If this is something you’ve always wanted to do, summer is when to do it. Outdoor pools are open for swimming, the weather is great for cycling, and there are lots of races to choose from.

Plus, the cross-training will benefit your running by lightening your running load and working auxiliary muscles.

If it’s your first time trying a tri, definitely go for a sprint distance.

These generally don’t require more than a half mile swim, a 15-mile bike, and a 5k run. You don’t have to commit to big training hours, either, and I promise—you will have fun with it!

What’s the bottom line?

All your years of running have built up endurance, a triathlon may not be as far out of your comfort zone than you think!

[bctt tweet=”5 ways to change up your summer running as a masters runner.”]

Summer is a great time to have fun with your running.

Racing, by default of the heat, can move a bit down the priority list but still help you prep for your biggest goals. Just open up that calendar first and make sure you do things right so that you do not sacrifice your important racing goals on your training schedule for immediate benefits in the next few months.

What Summer Races are Fun to do in the Summer?

Find Your Race at the Shore

As you plan your racing season for the summer, you might want to consider those locations that offer the best of both worlds: the beach and a race. There are several classics each summer from which to choose.

In fact, you could try a new one each year and cover a lot of new territory while you’re at it. Here then, a list of great surfside racing to consider:

Dipsea Trail Race in Mill Valley, Ca.

Date: June 12, 2016

Dips Trail Race

This 7.7 mile is America’s oldest trail race and offers a unique handicap system allowing the winner to emerge from all different skill levels, ages, and genders.

Shelter Island 10k in Shelter Island, N.Y.

Date: June 18, 2016

Shelter Island

Located off the coast of Long Island, this race will see its 37th year this summer and offers a big purse, which draws a field of high quality of elites in addition to age groupers.

Manzanita Beach Run in Manzanita, Or.

Date: July 23, 2016

Manzanita Beach

Both a 10k and 5k are offered and walkers are made welcome at this one. The entire run takes place on the beach, making it a unique experience.

Beach to Beacon 10k in Cape Elizabeth, Me.

Date: August 6, 2016

Beach 2 Beacon

Created by marathon legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, this popular event draws runners from all over the country for its scenery and competition.

Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth, Ma. (Cape Cod)

Date: August 21, 2016

Over 12,000 runners take to the seaside roads of Cape Cod each year to run this seven-mile event.

Falmouth Road Race

These are all fun races to try if you are looking for inspiration, but check out your local listings, and you are sure to find some fun races to do this summer in your area.

Now go out, have fun, and wear your medal with pride.

[bctt tweet=”Planning on racing this summer? @Runners_Connect has a great guide!” via=”no”]

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