5 Reasons to Love Summer Training

Motivation to Run Easy—Really

Summer weather makes Hamilton's runners "feel like they've got concrete blocks for feet," she says. But instead of lamenting your sluggishness, work with it: Deliberately run your first mile at a slower pace to extend the amount of time you can run without overheating. For example, if a nine-minute mile is your norm, start between 10-and 11-minute pace. "Most runners struggle with the concept of keeping an easy pace," Hamilton says.

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More Chances to Race Short

No matter where you live, summer triggers a spike in the number of races offered—especially short ones. Even in steamy Atlanta (where Hamilton trains and coaches), there's a 5K or 10K almost every weekend, and some on weekday nights. Running one per month can boost your motivation and serve as a progress check for your goal race in the fall. Races can also substitute for speed workouts, says Mierke. "Having a number on your chest provides some added motivation, and it's a lot more fun than hitting the track till your lungs pop," he says.

More: Find a 5K Race

More Outdoor Workouts

Ditching the treadmill for fresh air and sun may help correct your form, says Mierke. "Without the treadmill's cushion, runners tend to take smaller, quicker strides," he says. Mierke is also a "huge proponent" of cross-training through cycling, swimming, hiking, and paddling, which not only offer escape from sweltering pavement but also allow for greater training volume with less fatigue and injury risk.

Summer is also prime time for trail running, Hamilton's favorite form of cross training for runners on a steady diet of road miles. "Trails build strength and stamina by forcing you to pick up your feet and adapt to varying terrain and surfaces," Hamilton says. And because trails tend to be shaded by trees, they offer sun protection—and even an oxygen boost, says Mierke.

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Less Long-Run Fuss

In the summer, water fountains are on, bathrooms are open, and long-mileage workouts require less preparation. Take advantage of such conveniences by scheduling long runs accordingly: Plan jaunts with stretches through parks that have plumbing. And enjoy a break from the layering tactics (and resulting laundry) needed in chilly seasons. "Summer is great for folks who like to wear very little," says Mierke—which makes summer equally great for people-watching.

More: Are Your Easy Runs Slow Enough?

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