Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SIX SIZZLING REASONS TO LIKE SUMMER WORKOUTS

First, let me begin by saying that I know this blog will produce controversy. Talking about the weather is like offering opinions about religion or politics.

Obviously, these are my personal views, and I fully respect (and expect) contrary opinions.

One more disclaimer.

Races, especially longer distances like the marathon or half marathon are best run in the cooler weather. Ideally, temperatures in the 50s are what we hope for when we run a marathon.

Finally, use your influence to encourage local race directors to conduct all races no later than 9:00 a.m. during the months of June, July, and August, in anticipation of potentially dangerous heat conditions.

And one more 'Finally.' Be sure to stay hydrated, and avoid dangerous mid-day heat whenever possible during the summer months.

Now, on to the reasons why I, for the most part, love summer running workouts.

1. The Winter-I have chosen to live my life in northeastern Pennsylvania, so I  must accept the reality of harsh winters. That, however, doesn't mean I have to like them. Once the colorful fall foliage disappears, we are forced to endure six months of brown and gray colors, biting wind chills, snow, sleet, ice, and the accompanying shoveling that goes with it. Roads become narrowed, drivers become irate at the sight of runners, there is constant danger of falling...well, you get the picture. The colors, the sound of birds, the overall brightness that seems to extend to the workout itself, the beauty of roads, trails and the beach, provide such a contrast from the drab, depressing winter months that one will never hear me complain about the heat.

2. Daylight-I have opined on this blog about the dreadful day in November when we return to Standard Time. Clocks "fall back" and we are plunged into darkness. Workout times are compressed. Night falls before 5:00 p.m., and a general workout depression sets in. During the summer, one can hit the road at 5:30 a.m. or 8:30 p.m. Given the busy schedules most of us are forced to juggle, we appreciate this flexibility of workout time options.

3. Clothing-Winter is way too much work for me. Nailing the exact wardrobe decision is essential. Dress too lightly and you'll be cold. Layer up too much and you'll sweat excessively, and, well, you'll be cold!! It's pretty simple in the summer. Shorts, socks, and shoes for guys. Add a top for women, and you're out the door. Ok, don't forget the sunscreen and sunglasses.

4. Precipitation-We actually ENJOY precipitation in the summer. A cooling rain shower in July feels good. Rain at 40-degrees in February definitely does not feel good. And the rain is never going to freeze in the summer, causing treacherous footing.

5. Shade-Unless you're running on a beach, isn't it great that we can seek out our own personal air conditioning unit? I have specific routes that I choose on sweltering days. It may take me a few minutes to get there, but when I reach the canopy of trees, the temperatures drop ten degrees. It is magnificent.

6. Venues-Forest trails, mountains, the beach. Sure, we travel to these places at other times of the year, but, for the most part, many of us take that summer vacation. It is exciting to run on that secluded beach, or on that isolated mountain trail. When we travel, I love to use my morning run as a scouting mission. When I return, I usually have suggestions for restaurants I've passed during my workout, as well as places I'd like to visit.

Enjoy everything our sport has to offer during the summer months. Sure, your race times may suffer on hot days, so allow for that. Don't worry about accumulating massive amounts of miles, rather, concentrate on quality workouts.

And keep in mind the old adage: "You don't have to shovel the heat!"