I’m often asked if I know when road races and running events like parkrun will return. Unfortunately, I have no insider knowledge.
But I can assure you that I miss these events as much as you do. This glorious combination of pre-race nerves, mid-race camaraderie and post-race satisfaction is hard to beat. Those good old days will certainly return, but I don’t intend to spend the summer waiting for them to return.
This time last year we were all in a state of mind as events were being postponed at short notice. It was unsettling and frustrating for so many runners who had only visualized their summer of racing to have it taken away so suddenly. Some runners moved on to virtual events and maintained the training routine while others decided to take a step back from their regular training schedules. Much time has been spent speculating and ruminating. A year later, and although there are still very few races on the horizon, we have the advantage of being warned in advance of a calm summer of racing ahead.
More than a day
A running day in the calendar is often the reason many of us continue to run regularly. Having a deadline and a goal allows us to stay focused and get out more easily. What we risk losing by not having races or events in the log is consistency and confidence. Our weekly running routine is where the magic happens for us physically and mentally, not just at the start line of the race. Our weekday runs give most of us a chance to relax, clear our heads, and be away from screens and responsibilities for a while. Having a goal and a deadline, even though it may not be a traditional race right now, can help us maintain some form of running routine this summer and ensure we stay motivated to continue making time for our race. race and reap all the benefits.
Start at the end
So now is the time to pull out the journal and make a plan just for you. There are exactly three months left until the last day of August. It sounds like a long time into the future, but we all know how quickly time flies. Take a moment to imagine where you would like to be with your run by the end of August. Maybe you want to run longer, run faster, or even take on a completely different kind of challenge this summer. You might like to run in new places or take the pressure off running goals. Whatever you decide, if you embark on a plan that is independent of Covid-19 races and restrictions, you will be able to focus on what you can do rather than dwell on obstacles that might restrict your progress. Any surprise racing day that comes to fruition over the months can be a welcome bonus.
Summer running ideas
Being the designer of your summer run means you can choose the “run” days to suit your schedule and preferences. Don’t put all the pressure on just one summer day. A monthly milestone would be a great checkpoint. Create your own personal events or jump rope with a few running buddies. You become the race organizer when you decide your route, distance and post-race celebrations. Map out an itinerary locally or combine it with a summer vacation. Many runners enjoyed the virtual races and the challenges of the past few months. Or, now that we have a little more freedom to travel, you might like to retrace your steps from a run you enjoyed a few years ago. The novelty of a different location might keep you focused to keep running.
Tailor parkrun for you
If traveling is high on your priority list, remember that there are 100 online parkrun routes to choose from in Ireland just to keep you busy all summer. Without a regular parkrun on Saturdays, many of us miss that quick weekly fix of running with others to a finish line. If you don’t already, you can create a monthly or even a fortnightly 5k time trial with a few racing buddies. A little camaraderie and competition goes a long way. Choose your local parkrun route or better yet a flat 1km loop which means you’re never too far from others but can run at your own pace. We all do better together.
Take control of this summer
We might not have any traditional races to add to the summer training plan, but we can get creative and design our own milestones and celebrations along the way. Let’s take responsibility for the conception of some great days. Running doesn’t have to take over your life this summer, but if you don’t take the time to plan ahead, there will always be something else to consider. I have always found that my summer running schedule has always shaped my weekly routine as well as the summer at large. When I have a training plan in place, I follow it. When I don’t, time literally disappears. If you also think this structure works for you, choose challenges and enjoyable days that you can expect.
Back to the races
We all have our fingers crossed for a return to the starting lines. As race organizers seek to test the waters with new ways of organizing events, we can’t control the deadlines, but we can be ready for them when the time comes. Choose where you want to go in the meantime. Put a pen on paper and make this summer one to remember. Don’t wait for someone else to plan your summer. Start today and create your own summer running trip.
Register for one of the The Irish Times’ Get Running programs (it’s free!).
First, choose the eight week program that’s right for you.
– Beginner course: A class to go from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
– Stay on track: For those who can run several times a week.
– 10 km course: Designed for those who want to travel up to the 10 km mark.
– Mary Jennings is the founder of ForgetTheGym.ie. Its summer running programs to help runners reach their goals begin July 5. Reservation open now.