Summer Care for Runners


It’s the warmest time of the year where I live. And like previous summers, I’ll be taking extra care with hydrating and stretching my calf to prevent cramping. With this extra care, running usually stays enjoyable during the summer months:

The sweat rate really climbs during summer. Store-bought electrolyte drinks and tablets do a good job of replacing minerals lost through sweat, but they’re a bit pricey to my liking. A simple low cost solution is to put a small amount (dash) of salt in drinking water throughout the day. This strategy allows you to retain water longer. I also searched sports nutrition sources for a tasty and cost-effective homemade electrolyte drink recipe. After searching, I concluded that these recipes would be close to the same cost or higher than a store-bought electrolyte drink or tablet, and not as convenient to make as well. However, one recipe did catch my eye put out by the sports nutrition division of the United States Olympic Committee (picture & recipe below). While I wouldn’t make it every day, I definitely would serve this to guests coming over to my patio for a visit;). 

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Pineapple Coconut Sports Drink
Makes 3 cups
1 cup water or sparkling water
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup coconut water
1/8 tsp. Salt
Directions - Pour all ingredients into a pitcher, stir or shake to dissolve salt, chill.
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How much water should you be drinking? Drink to thirst and (it may sound gross) check the colour of your urine throughout the day and adjust your water intake accordingly. For instance, a deep yellow colour means you should be increasing your water intake.

Fortunately, an abundance of colorful, potassium-rich vegetables is available in summer, which boosts your sports nutrition. To help get started, check out Kenna’s Roasted Chickpea Salad recipe in: 

Bare Feet
The foot contains 26 bones , 31 joints, and 20 unique muscles. (Almost ¼ of all bones in the body are located in your feet!) Shoes and flip-flops do their job of supporting feet. Unfortunately, this support leads to the foot not having to work as hard. With the warm weather, it’s easy to kick off the shoes and flip-flops and give foot muscles and ligaments a workout. I try to spend some time each day barefoot when moving about the house - doing chores, going up & down stairs and so forth. Also, I try to do some activities barefoot and on one leg, when brushing teeth, blow drying your hair, washing dishes, etc. Being on one leg forces the hip, knee, ankle, foot joints and muscles to really work at stabilizing the foot when contacting the ground.

Lower Leg Stretching & Strengthening
During hot weather, muscle strains and cramping in the lower leg in the form of shin splints, calf strains, and achilles tendon stiffness can appear. To prevent this from happening, a good exercise that stretches and strengthens the lower leg is demonstrated below: 

You’ll need a belt for this exercise. Place the belt around the ball of your foot, move the top of your foot toward you, then provide some light pressure for a couple of seconds to stretch the ankle joint. Then move the top of the foot in the opposite direction to a pointing position while providing light resistance with the belt and hold for a couple of seconds. Do both feet and try for 10 each.

And if you’re having cramping in the lower leg, before going to see a health professional, you may try compression to see if this brings relief. There are compression socks for runners which can be worn while doing the lower leg exercise demonstrated above. Also, if you have access to a pool, walking in water up to chest level provides compression - equal to or more than compression gear. 

Spending time on forest trails with lots of shade helps endurance athletes stay cool during summer.

Less Structure
Summer can be a time of less structure for endurance athletes and their families. At this time of the year, there’s more hanging out in the warmer weather and bedtime tends to be a little later than usual. Fartlek training is a great fit for matching a less structured lifestyle. Meb Keflezghi, winner of both the Boston and New York City marathons, encourages fartlek running as a way of improving running speed. As pictured above, fartlek runs on forest trails with lots of shade helps endurance athletes stay cool during summer. For more, check out: 

Summer vacation is another way of leaving behind the routines of daily life. Yet, endurance athletes may be looking for ways to maintain their fitness in preparation for a key upcoming race, like a fall marathon. Or, if endurance training is not part of vacation plans, athletes may be looking at how best to return to training after vacation. For more, check out: 

Southern Hemisphere
For my readers in the southern hemisphere I haven’t forgotten about you! Even though it’s the coolest time of the year for you, hydration and the thermogenic effect of food can help boost your sports nutrition and recovery. Also you may be in the off-season of your favorite endurance sport - with perhaps an emphasis on strength training. To help with these conditions, check out: 

Thanks for reading!

If you're interested in more posts on recovery and running check out "Recovery from Training & Racing" found in the EOOC TABLE OF CONTENTS page located in the sidebar of the homepage.

Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel at .