This post is rather belated given that (in theory) my least favorite running season is finally coming to an end. I wish the weather forecast would get the memo, though. It’s Fall, for pity’s sake. It has been Fall for almost two weeks! But this weekend’s 11 mile run in 75°, 90% humidity was brutal. In practice, South Carolina is still clinging to summer.
Running in summer is basically the worst. To me, anyway. I know that there are people out there who hate running in the cold. I love it. But perhaps this post will help them in the coming months. For those of you out there like me, well, bookmark this post and maybe it will help you next summer.
As a slow runner (my speed ranges from 11:30-13:30/mile depending on any number of factors) who gets even slower when the temperature gets a breathe over 70° in humid climates, May-August are my least favorite months. It takes a monumental act of will-power to get myself to run in the summer.
Usually, I kinda don’t run for most of the hot months. It’s my “off” season (if I were really a serious enough athlete to call it that). Traditionally, I spend summer griping and moaning and forcing myself to run 3-4 miles a couple of times a week. And I hate every second of it.
This year, I had the incredibly idiotic idea to run the Hotlanta Half Marathon in June. The race was fun in a “this is as terrible as I thought it would be” sort of way. But it also broke me. I mean, broke me.
Between June 10th and August 20th, I ran like three times. I just couldn’t do it. Something inside me finally said “you’re crazy, and I’m done with this nonsense!” The only thing that got me back on track, which is the only thing that ever really gets me back on track, was necessity.
I’ll be running the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon on October 20th, and in order to avoid injuring myself, I had to start running again. No question. I’ve done the running a half marathon while under-trained mistake before and suffered the consequences (in the form of 5 months of physical therapy and many, many tears). Never again! So my number one lesson in staying motivated to run?
Sign up for a race and commit to running it. Preferably with a friend and/or a plane ticket.
Getting races on the calendar is what keeps me on moving. Left to my own devices, I will backslide. I will let the Blerch win. I will eat all the delicious baked things and get totally emotionally off-kilter and hate everyone and everything — unless I find proper motivation to keep running.
The shiny objects at the end of the race are my motivation, along with trips to cool/fun/new/interesting places. I really run half marathons for the medals, though. For the tangible, hopefully sparkly reminder that I can do anything if I set my mind to it.
But! That doesn’t necessarily mean I like it. Knowing I have to run to avoid injury later will get me to do it, but that doesn’t make it any less miserable. And I don’t run to hate life. I run to love life! So, I really needed to find a way to stop hating life so much during my several hours each week of training runs. My solution?
Distraction, distraction, distraction.
Whether it’s a friend to chat with, an engaging podcast, or a totally engrossing audiobook, I learned this summer that if I find something pleasant to occupy my brain while my body is miserable, it comes out even enough to keep me reasonably chipper about the experience.
I don’t have running buddies here in Greenville, and podcasts don’t distract me enough. But oh mama, there are some great audiobooks out there. And if I listen to them on 1.25 or 1.5x speed, it’s especially effective in keeping my mind off how hot it is, how miserable I am, and how much I really, really don’t want to be doing this.
*This is the point in the post where I list off a bunch of awesome books I’ve discovered in the last year (or last couple years) that I “couldn’t put down” in the figurative sense. If audiobooks aren’t your thing, then you can probably stop reading here.
My go-to authors and titles for surviving summer running:
Anything by Drew Hayes. Anything.
Drew Hayes is my freakin’ hero y’all. I am obsessed with his books. I found him first through his Fred the Vampire Accountant series (which is as delightful and silly and heartwarming as it sounds). Then I moved on to his Super Powereds series (which I tell people is Harry Potter with Super Heroes), and I lost my dang mind over how good those books are. Seriously, y’all. They are so good. They’re also enormous, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to read them in hard copy. But to give you a sense of how obsessed I am with these books… book 3 (of 4) is 41 hours long and I finished it in under a week.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This is the first book of a sci-fi series, and book three will be out very soon. It’s got depth of character and deals with some really interesting ethical and philosophical questions. Plus, it’s written by a lady, and I am trying to make it a point to read more books by ladies.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Magic, mystery, a carnival. Victorian era. It’s great. Really fun and disconcerting structure to the narrative. It takes you through all sorts of perspectives and periods of time. That can be a bit disconcerting at first, but you get used to it. And Jim Dale narrates, so that’s lovely.
The All Soul’s Series by Deborah Harkness
When a friend introduced me to the first book in this series (A Discovery of Witches), she explained it as Twilight for adults. It’s so much better than that, but the description was enough to get me interested. They’re an intense and epic love story between a witch and a vampire. Plus, there’s time travel. So, it checks a lot of my boxes in terms of fictional preferences.
Much as I loved every one of these books, I’m praying that it’s going to cool off soon so I can go back to my running playlist. In cooler weather, running is my zen time to think about the big and little stuff going on in my life. And there’s a lot of big stuff going on right now.
In about a month, I’ll be rolling out of South Carolina for an extended period of wandering around, being a digital nomad. I’m pretty stoked about it, but it’s also a pretty big deal in terms of stressors. There will likely be fewer baking posts and more running posts in the coming months, but that’s kind of exciting, too.