Four steps to finishing the summer on a running high

Mary Jennings: Set that alarm and commit to getting out the door one day this fortnight before you start your day

Is it really only two weeks until the autumn routine is upon us? At this stage of the summer I normally get frustrated for not having completed all the outdoor summer adventures I imagined I would. It’s the same every year. All those extra hikes, runs and yoga stretches in the garden which I looked forward to in the cold days of spring don’t seem to have materialised as predicted. I’m choosing to blame the weather this year. You can too.

Four steps to success

But let’s not let the rain and wind bring us down. Let’s decide that regardless of the weather and no matter how many social engagements we have in the late summer calendar, we still have two weeks to prioritise our health, fitness and the last of the really long days. After a busy summer, we all deserve to finish August on a high, proud of our achievements and motivated for September and beyond. If you feel summer has run away on you, I challenge you to join me in my four mini challenges for the next fortnight.

Step 1 – Meet a friend for a walk/run

When there is a date in the diary and someone is waiting, we always turn up. Who could you invite on a mini adventure next weekend? Instead of meeting for coffee or dinner, choose to go outside. You might be more inclined to go off the beaten track when you have company. Last week when a friend suggested a trail run to a scenic viewing point, I instantly said yes.

I would never have attempted the route solo but instead I got company, exercise, fresh air, slightly wet feet and a huge sense of achievement as we walked the steep bits and floated down the hills with the sheep cheering us on and the blue Atlantic in the distance. Together we do more. Decide who you might like to share a summer memory with and give them a call.

Step 2 Set your alarm one morning

The time will come when we will be waking up in the dark again dreaming of these bright mornings. So set that alarm and commit to getting out the door one day this fortnight before you start your day. Sunrise gets later these mornings, but even if that’s too early for you, a run before breakfast is a wonderful way to start your day before life takes over and your head gets full of tasks, worries and responsibilities.

Setting out in daylight is a lot easier than finding motivation on a cold winter morning. Enjoy the silence on the paths and you will return home feel awake, clearheaded and smug that your day is a success before you even boil the kettle for your morning cuppa. Bonus points, of course, if you finish your run/walk with a few stretches or breathing exercises in the garden before you step back inside.

Step 3 Take an evening adventure

Is there somewhere within 30 minutes of your home that you could travel to? An adventure doesn’t have to take over a whole day and be restricted to weekends or holidays. Sometimes the most satisfying runs are those after a busy day of work or minding children. Maybe you could get as far as the seaside or try a route on the other side of your town. A new park might be a good idea while daylight is still there and we still have brightly lit trails to follow.

Pick somewhere scenic that feels a step away from your regular running routine. A real treat might be to finish your run with a paddle or a swim. Too far from the sea? No worries, treat yourself to a 99 at the finish and sit out and relax. Do whatever makes your midweek evening a little holiday.

Step 4 – Book an autumn running event

If you complete the first three steps above, you are sure to feel optimistic and motivated for more running ahead. To avoid you slipping back into more sedentary habits, take a look at race calendars or other active events and set yourself an autumn goal. It might be a local 5k or 10k, or you could set yourself an adventure further afield for the Halloween break.

For many years now my running community heads to France for a fun run in November. It might seem a little extravagant, but when you know you have a big trip planned, you are more inclined to stick to a training plan, do your homework and put the effort in the months leading up to the trip so you can relax on race day and enjoy the main event. Find an event that excites and inspires you this autumn and pop it in your calendar. Once September arrives we can then focus on doing what is needed to get you over the line.

Reclaim your mojo

We can wait for an invitation from a friend to meet up or we can hold off for the perfect weather day to plan an adventure, but we don’t have time for any of that. We have got to take control and be the one who takes responsibility to plan and prioritise our grand finale to the summer.

By following these four steps you can remind yourself of all that’s on our doorstep and what is possible when we commit to something. The next two weeks can be spent getting ready for autumn and it is so easy for them to disappear. Instead we have a chance now to prolong the summer, reclaim our mojo for getting outdoors and spend a little time looking after ourselves before a new season begins.

Go on, give it a go, you deserve this end of summer reward.

  • Mary Jennings is the founder of ForgetTheGym.ie. Her autumn running courses are now open for booking in Dublin and online

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