Bringing The Fun Back InTo Summer Runs

Summer running is a great opportunity for runners to re-focus and prepare for the upcoming seasons without having to worry about racing each weekend.  There is time to build up mileage, lift in the weight room, and achieve desired body weight for their event.  

Secret to Success

Even though a successful summer of training is crucial in the progress of an athlete, there have been too many instances in which an athlete will burn themselves out by pushing this off-season too hard.  How can an athlete prevent this burn-out from sabotaging their season?  Below are some ways athletes can gain fitness, while still maintaining their love for the sport.

Preventing Burn-out

First, avoid practicing in the heat of the day.  There are times when adapting to the hot Florida environment is beneficial; however, if an athlete runs in the middle of the day during the entire summer, they are putting themselves at risk for burning out.  Whether practice is held around sunrise or sunset, it is best to run harder efforts in the cooler temperatures.

Second, take advantage of cross training.  This is the time of the year that it is ok to be sore after using muscles you're not used to using.  There are plenty of good options for cross training such as swimming, biking, plyometrics, weight lifting, and more!  One summer, I even took my athletes rock climbing as a part of their strength cross training.

Third, consider a change in scenery.  If this is an option for your team or summer training group, try to mix it up when it comes to the location of your practice.  Consider traveling to a near by trail, shaded running path, or beautiful neighborhood.  Even if there is just one day out of the week that the group travels somewhere special to run, it can make a huge difference in the athlete's attitude.

Fourth, be creative in adding a fun aspect to the summer of training.  Some ideas I have personally used in the past have been pool parties following long runs, chocolate milk following practice, water guns or water balloons, and destination runs (running from point A to point B, and having a volunteer drive a car to pick up athletes at point B).  This still allows the athlete to get a great workout in, while adding an element of surprise.

Coaches, Athletes, and Parents:  Happy Summer Training!

"Summer cross country training is where cross country teams are made."

-Brent Haley-   National Cross Country Coach of the Year (1996) and member of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Halls of Fame.

"I found that focusing on building a base of solid milage for the fall rather than focusing on a certain number of workouts really helped me...the main goal was to feel strong, yet fresh for the tough workouts to tackle in the fall!"

-Emily Edwards-         2013 3A FHSAA state titles in cross country & 1600m, and college D1 athlete for University of Alabama and Florida State.

"We have very few long distance runners, so adding fun to summer cross country training is essential."

-Barry Greenleaf-         Northside Christian School 2018 Coach of the Year, long distance coach to countless high school state qualifiers. He coached 3 out of the top 30 most improved athletes from 2016-2017 FHSAA State mee

Did you like what you read? Check out to read more from registered dietitian, master's in nutrition, and former NCAA DI athlete Katelyn Greenleaf.  

*Individual nutrition counseling and meal plans are offered (especially beneficial for athletes wanting to get serious about their sport!)

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