Looking to keep fit this summer? These tips and tech from our running experts will help you achieve your summertime goals…
Summer is just around the corner, which means one thing: it’s time to ditch the sofa and head outside. With temperatures heating up, now is the perfect time to challenge yourself to achieve new fitness goals.
Running, love it or loathe it, is a fantastic, and free way to stay fit. Plus, with so many cool gadgets and helpful apps, there’s never been a better time to embark on your running journey.
Of course, we all know that this is easier said than done; with rooftop cocktails, park picnics and sunbathing competing for your time, exercise can be relegated to the backbench. So, how do we stay on track with our fitness, whatever the weather?
It’s all about positive thinking, dedication, self-discipline – and the right mobile apps to help you run that extra mile. Whether the sun’s glaring down, the rain’s pouring, or both, there’s always a way to get your adrenaline pumping.
We spoke to Ian Williams, founder of popular running site, Fetch Everyone, and Lee Ryan, a Dubai-based PT and an Adidas Runner Dubai, who has set several Guinness World Records, including the most burpees in 24 hours (an unreal 10,110), for some tips on how to stay on track this summer…
The Runner’s High
Running doesn’t have to feel like a chore. In fact, for Ian and Lee, pounding the pavement can be a way to unwind and zone out from the stress of daily life. “Running is my calm, my escape, my meditation, my thinking time,” says Lee, adding that he loves “the simplicity of being able to just run.”
And, when your legs start to warm-up, there’s the euphoria of pushing your body through physical and mental hurdles: “In the middle of a good run, it feels like you could keep gliding along forever”, enthuses Ian.
Plus, exercise gives you endorphins which makes you happy – so running makes you happy,* which makes it a great, cost-effective way to stay fit, boost confidence and improve your mood.
But what are our experts’ advice for those yet to succumb to the joy of running? Check out these great tips:
1. If you’re new to running, don’t try to do too much too soon. It’s better to get into a sustainable habit, and build on that in the future.
2. If you’ve been running for a while, think about varying your pace. Not every session needs to be “as fast as you can”. Taking time to enjoy longer relaxed runs will leave you with more energy to blast those interval and threshold runs.
3. If you’ve lost motivation because you’re not in PB-shape, try challenging yourself in other ways. See how many squares of a map you can explore. See how many car journeys you can replace with runs.
1. Always have a “WHY”. This doesn’t have to be super emotional ‘why’, but if it means something to you and gets you to lace up and get out. That’s good enough.
2. Find the joy and fun in it. Don’t step out the door with the “this is going to suck” attitude, because within the first 10 steps, it will give you exactly what you ask for.
3. Sometimes it’s good to go and explore. If you travel, wake up early go and get lost and see a new city before the world wakes up.
And if those tips aren’t enough, thankfully there’s a ton of great mobile tech that’ll help you kickstart your running journey.
Tech yourself out…
When it comes to choosing what device or app is best for you, Lee advises those new to the running game to keep it simple: “If you are just starting, get something that works for you and something that gives you what you need.”
A good place to start? Invest in a good GPS-enabled device or app.
Lee recommends the Garmin Fenix 5 wearable, which is packed full of awesome features such as outdoor sensors, Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology and a performance Widget that helps you keep track of any PB made.
“It gives you all you need for data reflection”, says Lee, adding that he likes to link his Garmin Fenix 5 to either the Runtastic or Strava apps, which connects to training plans and peaks. Plus, Strava helps him stay motivated: “It’s like a Facebook for running, so when you see you friend has done their run, it makes you get your run in.”
Ian is also a fan of GPS-enabled wearables. His personal favourite? The multisport and multipurpose, Suunto Spartan Ultra watch, which he uses to track pace, heart rate and cadence. “If you’re looking for your next step, a heart rate monitor (especially a wrist-based one for convenience) is great,” says Ian. “Looking at how your heart rate varies depending on pace, terrain and your general condition is a really useful insight.” And with its weather trend and storm alarm feature, you’ll be alerted to any changes in outdoor conditions.
Keeping a record of your progress is also great way to stay motivated. Ian logs all the data collected from his wearable onto the mobile version of his website, Fetcheveryone.com, a space for runners (there are currently 85,000 users and counting) to keep a record of their running activities and connect to their fellow runners. It provides everything he needs in terms of stats and support, plus the facilities are completely free. “Unlike some other websites, none of its features are stuck behind a paywall, and the people are all awesome.”
Beat the heat
When it comes to working out rain, hail or shine, it’s important to set yourself some goals and embrace discomfort, whether that’s physically or weather-related…or both! Self-motivation is key for Ian, who says people often forget that they’re tougher than they give themselves credit for.
His tips to beat the heat? “Remind yourself just how awesome you’ll feel when you get home. Get some good sun cream, chafing protection and running arm sleeves so you feel like you’re tooled up, and get on with it.”
And if the weather is rubbish? “Honestly, when it rains that’s the best time to get out and run, [there’s] nothing quite like it,” says Lee.
Keep calm, and carry on
Recovery is necessary if you want to stay on top of your game, so go easy on yourself; you don’t have to push yourself to become the next Iron-Man right off the bat. “Always remember that a 15-20 minute run can be just as rewarding as that long run,” encourages Lee.
So what advice would they give to people who are trying to stick to their fitness goals in summer?
For Lee, it’s the power of positivity: “Keep it fun. Find some new things to do. If the weather is nice, find every reason to get out and go for a run. For me, early sunrise runs are the best way to start a day. If you’re still working hard through the summer, timekeeping on your day is key, if you can only squeeze in little run/workout in, still do it. The rewards from that will show up when you need them most.”
For Ian, a holistic approach to staying fit is key. “Getting out super-early whilst everything is quiet and sleepy is fantastic. Make a pact with friends to push each other on; enter a couple of events to keep yourself focused. And remember that gnats are a great source of protein!”
Bring on summer training!
Need to ease your way in? Our favourite Netflix fitness documentaries will put you on the right track.
*According to a 2018 study by scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University, running regularly makes you a happier, more confident person.