In some parts of the world, the summer months are ripe with races. In my neck of the desert, where midday temperatures routinely top one hundred degrees, formal racing opportunities dwindle. For others, the downtime comes when the ground is buried under crunchy layers of white stuff. Still, there are plenty of ways for a even the most ardent race-a-holic to stay motivated and well-trained during the inhospitable seasons.
Get Out of Dodge:
Is the weather awful? Go somewhere where it isn’t! Destination races can be a lot of fun. This summer, I cooled off in San Francisco and Flagstaff. Last year I ran a half marathon in Disneyland. Make like a kid and head to a sports camp. I’ve had great times at running camp. Incidentally, my hometown of Tucson is home to several triathlon camps during the winter months. Consider a fitness spa vacation to both sweat and unwind.
While there are fewer formal races, I’m fortunate that my city provides a few weekday events during the summer weeks. My favorite is the local aquathlon series (800 yard pool swim, 3 mile run). The swim can get a little crazy, as we circle swim three or four to a lane. Swimmers are assigned lanes based on an a submitted start time, but some estimates are better than others. I know my times vary from week to week. Some days, it’s like bumper boats, and other times things go… just swimmingly. Then it’s pop out of the water, put your shoes on, and run three laps around a park path, weaving through walkers, bikers, and oblivious children. This particular summer was a lot of fun for me, as both my run and swim times improved since last year. I also had some great sprint-to-the-finish battles and even managed to win a few. They are relatively small events, and you get to know some folks pretty well by the end of the summer.
One other thing I like to hit at least once during the summer is an all-comer’s track meet. There are several youth track clubs that participate as well as full-grown folks. I like to do mile time trials occasionally to gauge my fitness, and it’s fun to do them in a competitive setting. If that means getting beaten by an eight year-old, so be it. My mile PR dropped to 6:07 this summer.
Just do it anyway:
Some folks just decide to suck it up and race. One local running event company hosts a “Run With The Roosters”, which starts at 5:05 AM. I passed on that, but I did take part in an evening 5K and a sprint triathlon. With racing getting more popular these past few years, I have noticed that there are several events to pick from, even during the dog days of summer. If extreme weather is just one more challenge you’d like to take on, there are events like “The Hottest Race on Earth” just for you.
Well, my offseason is rapidly drawing to a close. Starting with an 8-miler on Labor Day, I have eight more races packed in to next two months. I’m eagerly anticipating my times dropping with the temperature.