Make the Jump! Summer Running Motivation!

“Cross Country: a summer sport played out in the fall.”

Anyone familiar with this declaration? This has been a mantra we have been teaching young people for many years as a point of motivation to simply get out the door and run on a consistent basis in July and August. Those who manage to do just that, experience a “jump” in performance come fall. As in many respects, our sport is so simplistic this way. The more time you spend doing it, the more improvement you will experience. This post is meant to promote summer running everywhere!

During the years coaching at CBNA, we truly treated summer running as a renewal of their love of the activity. After all, they just completed approximately 9 months of competitive running. Summer months should be spent running with a loose schedule (see below for an example) and done in very cool settings! If one cannot travel out of state, well, the Granite State has everything! Take running tours of the

Seacoast for the flat run along the ocean with gorgeous scenes, or head to the Whites for the hilly trails and also beautiful views! Or, in spite of the blood thirsty horseflies, head to the thousands of trail systems and state parks of NH! After all, without “interference” of school, time is a luxury which can be used to see some extraordinary places student-athletes simply do not have time for during the school year. Better yet, get your friends and teammates to join!

Many running enthusiasts attend running camps both as individuals and with their teams. They run in the most beautiful places in all six states of New England. Once again, running is used as a tool to tour the respective areas. The hope is by combining the beauty of surroundings as well as some well placed guest speakers and activities, a strong camp can have positive rippling effects throughout the season. Over the years, CBNA has offered their optional XC camp at Bear Brook State Park (horseflies beware), Lincoln-Woodstock area, but eventually settled on Acadia National Park. Acadia, being one of the most picturesque spots in our entire country offers miles of carriage trails (a runner’s heaven of a

surface – stone dust), single track technical trails, leading up “smaller” mountains to some of the most spectacular views one will experience. The camp is all about peak bagging in effort to see the most views and sites Acadia and surrounding area has to offer. No workouts, no races aside from maybe letting lose the final mile of a great run!

Taking this concept of running tours to another level, if an opportunity arises which offers traveling to an entirely different region of the country could be an experience you draw off of for years to come. 30 years ago as a college junior, a teammate and I did just that heading to Billings and Red Lodge, Montana for the summer. Painting houses a few days per week for my uncle in Billings but spending the majority of time training at a family cabin in Red Lodge (6000+ feet elevation) over 8 weeks was an experience I personally have never forgotten. Back then we had a very rough idea of the elevation gains of our runs thanks to topographical maps. We estimated our distances since we only had Timex Ironman watches and knew by then approximately how fast our paces were. While elevation and pace was important, they were not the focal point of the summer. Our focus was preparing the best we could for the upcoming cross country season while experiencing as many miles and areas our feet could take us. Red Lodge offers runs as low as 5000 feet to as high as 10,000 feet on the plateaus off

the Beartooth Pass. Plethora of national forest trails, dirt roads, cattle trails taking you along creeks, waterfalls, mountain lakes, breath-taking views were our focus. Of course we were always on the look out for wild life and thankfully never crossed paths with a grizzly. The result of this? We returned to school fit and strong, but more importantly rejuvenated and motivated!

Funny how life comes full circle. Currently my son Aidan, his cousins Luke and Tyler, as well as high school teammate Lars are sleeping in the same family cabin in Red Lodge and getting after their summer training along the same trails, dirt roads and plateaus my teammate and I did in 1994. They have teammates from Siena College and Virginia also there with the same goals. What a crew! My youngest son Broden and I made the trek out with them to spend the first 2 weeks helping them get started, showing them all the running spots, opportunities for adventure I have experienced as well as guided cooking/grilling lessons. Thus far they have seen 4 bear (black bear and cubs), 9 moose (one with a calf), and plenty of deer. The pics sprinkled in this article are from this trip simply because they are cool pics and demonstrate the point of the post.

But again, use any motivation to get out the door and RUN!!! Many times, those who struggle with motivation, spend more time procrastinating and debating how far, where, how fast or easy, than the time actually running. Don’t think too much, just get rolling! Find the group runs in your area. Look forward to family vacations and using your runs to safely view places the common tourist does not experience.

If for some reason you don’t have a summer plan, feel free to design your own, or use the one below! Keeping in mind, paces are not prescribed because this is a very generic plan to give you a loose idea of how to organize your week. And it also gives freedom to running faster when you feel great once per week.

Finally along these lines, check out our instagram for possible pop up runs in your area with New Hampshire Cross Country!

Notes on program below:

  • this is a simple plan aimed at the typical HS runner.
  • may want to run 5 days the first week or two
  • run your pleasurable pace
  • throw in some cross training (swimming, biking, elliptical)!

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