While I’m definitely not a fair weather runner, I can be somewhat of a fair weather racer. Let me explain. Running in the summer is tough enough. It’s hot, it’s humid, the bugs are out and it can often be an all-around sufferfest. However, it’s a necessary evil. So I do it. I wake up at the crack of dawn (actually, usually before the sun) and I run. Then I sweat all day and my hair looks a hot mess and I never cool down—but alas, that’s the price we pay.
Because summer running can be such a challenge, I have a few tips for choosing summer races to share. Most of these grew out of not being particular about summer racing and paying the price. Learn from my mistakes!
- Races must start EARLY. Do not run a half marathon in August that starts at 9 a.m. Do NOT do that to yourself. Unless you live someplace where the weather is very, very nice in August. My general rule is nothing after 8 a.m. once summer really gets going. Set your own guideline depending on your heat tolerance, but I strongly recommend setting one, whatever that may be. I chose 8am, because I am out the door and running before 7am just about every day I run in the summer, and know how quickly the temperature rises after 8am.
- Races must be relatively short. I ran an awesome 20k in August two years ago. The race started at 8 a.m., so it was within my rules, but by the time I was finishing, it was closer to 10 a.m. and it was HOT. Way too hot for my liking. A 10k would’ve been great (and in fact this summer I’ve already run two 10ks and a 5k). A 20k was just a touch too long for August heat, in my opinion. Lots of 5ks, 10ks and other fun distances (like Freedom 4-milers and such) are on my plate for this summer.
- Races must be for FUN. I do NOT run for any PRs in the summer. I race for fun and to get miles in as a part of my training. I save the PR goal races for the fall and the spring. The benefit of this approach is that by the time the race comes around, the weather is much better than I’ve been training in (typically—obviously you can’t always count on this) and that can equal a faster race!
What are your tips for choosing summer races?
A version of this post originally appeared at Women’s Running.