Surviving the Dog Days of Summer Training

dog days of summer

Image by Mel Elías via Unsplash

For many runners, the fall means one thing: race season!

Chicago and New York are the two biggest named races by far, but they are hardly the only races to consider from mid-September through the end of November.

One of the biggest reasons that fall is such a popular time of year to race is weather.

While there are obviously no guarantees, fall weather in many parts of the country trends toward being cool and dry.

And when it comes to good racing weather, it’s hard to beat cool and dry, right?

The Problem with Fall Racing

While fall weather typically provides great racing conditions, the one disadvantage of a fall race is the necessity of training during the heat of summer.

For early fall races, this means that the mileage really starts ramping up during the dog days of summer.

And if you’re serious about being ready to race hard during fall season, you really have to stay on track with  training during the heat and humidity of August.

Three Ways to Stay on Track During the Dog Days of Summer

Falling behind on your training during the dog days of summer is hardly ideal.

Not only does slacking on your training increase the risk that you come up short of your racing goals, but it also increases your risk of suffering an injury either before or during races.

Obviously, neither of those situations is ideal.

While the possibilities of a poor race and/or a running injury can both be pretty good motivators to stay on track with your training, the dog days of summer can still be a grind both physically and mentally for even the most dedicated runner.

If you find yourself in need of a little extra motivation to stay on track, here are a couple of suggestions that you may find useful this summer.

Extra Accountability

I don’t know about you, but I know I’m much more likely to show up for a long run or a hard workout if I have a friend that I know is waiting on me.

When left to my own devices, I’m  more apt to skip a run than when I’m running with someone else.

If you can recruit a friend or two to join you for your long runs, that’s a great way to stay on track during the dog days of summer.

And if not? Use the internet to find an accountability partner!

Join a running FB group and ask if anyone is looking for someone to help them stay on track with their training.

Then check in with each other after each run.

Knowing that someone is going to be checking in on you can be a great motivator to get out there and get your miles in on the days when you just don’t really want to do it!

Peer Pressure

Positive peer pressure is very similar to having an accountability partner in helping you stay on track with your training during the dog days of summer.

To harness the power of peer pressure, join a group (either online or in person) that is training for the race that you are training for and/or is training for a race on the same weekend as your race.

If everyone is training for the same race or race weekend, then most people will be doing a similar volume of training each week.

Everyone checks in each week with an update of how their training went.

Odds are, you’re not going to want to be the person who doesn’t get any running in while everyone else is successfully logging their miles, right?


A Little Incentive Goes a Long Way

As the dad of an almost-five-year-old, I know the power of a little bribe now and then!

Sometimes a little incentive makes all the difference between an argument/tears and my daughter happily doing what I ask of her.

While we might think of ourselves as being slightly more evolved than my five-year-old, we really aren’t that different.

A good incentive/bribe is still a very powerful motivator no matter how old you are.

If you are struggling to stay on track with your training during the dog days of summer, give yourself an incentive that is too good to resist.

“Need” some new running shoes? Maybe a new garment? A little pampering at the spa with a nice massage and pedicure?

Whatever incentive is too sweet for you to resist, put said incentive in place.

Then when you’re not sure that you want to head out for a 15 miler, the bribe that you put in place for yourself may be just what you need to get out the door to log your miles.

A Three-for-One Opportunity

If you’d like to combine all three of these ways to stay on track with your training during the dog days of summer, I’d invite you to join me in a virtual challenge taking place between the 11th and the 25th of August benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The virtual challenge will provide you with regular accountability, positive peer pressure, and some incentives for everyone that participates. And best of all, all proceeds go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The challenge is simple: you decide what you’re going to do over that two week window, then you do what it takes to be successful.

Maybe it’s simply sticking to your normal training schedule.

Or maybe your challenge is to get a certain number of miles in over the two weeks.

You can also focus your challenge on doing some strength training or beginning a yoga practice.

The point is, the challenge is whatever you need/want it to be.

And everyone who is participating will help hold each other accountable and provide the positive peer pressure that makes you want to do what you said you committed to at the beginning.

As for the incentive, there is a one-of-a-kind medal that all participants will receive in the mail, along with over $150 worth of virtual products, guides, and e-books from running coaches, personal trainers, and other experts.

For more information on the virtual challenge, or to sign up, click here.

Remember, Fall PRs are Forged in the Summer Heat

If you stay on track with your training during the dog days of summer, your odds of running a successful fall race are much higher than if you let the heat and humidity derail your training.

So this year, do what it takes to stay on track.

When your fall race day finally arrives, I promise you won’t regret it!

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.