Summer is my favorite time of year. The days are longer. The sun shines brighter. Temps are usually higher. However, even with all of the advantages summer brings, in order to get the most out of each day one must plan and prepare for success. Here are a few strategies for making the most of your summer:
Get up before the sun to get things done
Early mornings are usually the coolest time of day. Get up early before the mercury rises and the rest of your responsibilities begin. Use the time on the run to gather your thoughts and prepare for success each day.
Waiting until after work when it is hotter often leaves one drained, hungry, and unmotivated to run. If your run is scheduled in the evening and something comes up it is often the first thing to go, whereas if you make it a regular part of your morning routine you don't even have to think about the countless potential conflicts that could jeopardize your run throughout the course of the day.
Drink a liter of water when you wake up
Jumpstart your metabolism and take the first step toward adequate hydration by drinking a liter of water when you first wake up. This is a lot of water to consume all at once, but after a good night's sleep without hydrating this is a quick and easy way to get hydrated and ready to run.
Many water bottles come in standard one liter or one quart sizes. Use one to measure the amount you consume to ensure that you consume the right amount. If you drink a liter of water you should be fine for the first hour of the run without the need for additional water. If you plan to run longer than an hour and you won't be passing any water along the route, bring a handheld water bottle or hydration pack with you.
Eat a Big Breakfast
After jump starting your metabolism and hydration with a morning run and a liter of water, continue to keep your resting metabolic rate up by eating a large, nutrient dense breakfast. This will reduce your appetite and help you consume fewer total calories throughout the day.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day
Summer is harvest time for so many seasonal fruits and vegetables that it is actually possible to eat fresh, local fruits and veggies all day every day without getting tired of them.
Blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, cherries, strawberries, plums, grapes, apples, spinach, chard, kale, radishes, corn, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and mint (I know it's not a fruit but it sure tastes good on fresh watermelon) are all in season during the summer and taste great in their natural state and can make delicious smoothies or dried fruit snacks.
Not only do these fruits and veggies pack a ton of essential vitamins and nutrients, they are also full of juice to keep you hydrated and healthy through the long days of summer.
Run or bike commute
Many people spend hours each day sitting in traffic. Rather than wasting that time, find ways to commute from place to place on foot or on a bike. You may find that it takes just as long and you can often move faster than cars in heavy traffic. This will also free up your schedule before and after work because you can get in much of your training volume on your way to and from work.
Do a second workout inside or in water
If you have the time, ability, and/or desire to add additional training to your schedule you should plan to do some of it inside or in water. Take advantage of the air conditioning in homes, offices, and gyms to run on a treadmill or the healing and refreshing power of water by doing your second workout in the water. This is another way to keep your resting metabolic rate high while keeping you cool.
Go to bed early
Most people do the bulk of their unhealthy eating after dark, after dinner, right before bed. This usually causes us to go to bed even later as the food settles. This leaves junk food in our guts without giving it time to digest, meaning it will probably hit us on our run in the morning.
However, all of this can be avoided - the binge eating and the late nights - if we simply eat dinner at a regular time (before 7:00 pm) and then use the next couple of hours to let it digest and unwind from the day.
When we wait to run until after work we often eat dinner much later and then need to take additional time to cool off from the workout. This keeps us up later - often causing us to eat even more to pass the time - and keeps us away from family, friends, and opportunities to relax at the end of the day.
Get up before the sun to get things done. Drink a liter of water when you first wake up. Eat a big breakfast. East fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day. Run or bike commute. Do a second workout inside or in water. Go to bed early. Implement these simple strategies in your daily routine and you'll find that summer is a great time to train and make gains in your fitness and overall wellbeing.