The Summer Struggle

By Tanya Bennett


This morning mid-run, I sat on a rock, and I cried. I cried because it was hard, and I cried because it was hot. Then I cried because I was crying. Literally no one, not one person was making me get up at 5:30am to go run hill reps in 33C heat apart from myself, and the fact that I wanted to give up was making me feel pathetic.


Usually, I take the summer very easy. I do not cope with the heat well (you can read about my tips for summer in the article I wrote previously here: https://www.asiatrailgirls.com/post/you-are-not-harder-than-the-sun). So why punish yourself you ask? Races. Races are back. And I over enthusiastically signed up for a big one in October, one so big that sadly, I cannot afford to spend my summer lounging by a pool drinking Long Island Iced Teas. I would usually defer such a big race to the spring, but I will be leaving my beloved Hong Kong for a very flat Ho Chi Minh City next February, and so I want to squeeze in as many mountain adventures as possible before my departure.


Ordinarily an optimistic and enthusiastic person by nature, I decided to pick my sad self off that rock, start some sort of momentum, and spend the rest of my workout trying to come up with some positives for why I was torturing myself.


And so, I present to you: The Summer Struggle Sanguine!


Shufflin’

A good friend, and an excellent runner, once told me ‘shuffle shuffle’ when I wanted to walk, and it has stuck with me ever since. No matter how tired you think you are, I find you can always muster up enough energy to slowly shuffle along to just keep moving. Or, given how sweaty I get; just keep swimming, it feels like!


Strength

Summer is a great time to focus on strength work and good running form. I’m unlikely to pull off any impressive runs right now, but I can use this slower pace to ensure I’m landing correctly and activating my glutes. My runs are generally shorter, and this allows me extra time to do some at-home strength exercises. I work with the Hong Kong Sports Clinic to get a running specific programme.


Speed

Summer is generally not the time for beast mode activities, so leave your ego at home and resign yourself to the fact that runs will be much slower, and that’s ok! That said, shorter runs in summer are a great opportunity to put in some short bursts of effort on hills, or at track.


Sacrifice

Training in the summer is exhausting and I find I have to schedule much more time for sleep, be it naps or early nights. This means my social life takes a bit of a back seat, unless you want to join me for dinner at 5pm ;) But, who doesn’t love the benefits extra time in bed brings; muscle repair, a healthier heart, better mood, and sharper concentration.


Streams

It gets so steamy that one of the most pleasant ways to cool off is in the plentiful streams, as a lovely mid run treat. I often spend as much time in a stream, as I do running. Similarly, storms are an excellent time to train (provided you are being sensible and avoiding very heavy rain or lightning).


Solidarity

Although frequently a solo sport during the summer months (“What, are you mad? I’m not going running in THIS”), there are a few others of us out there. So, know that you are not alone in your efforts and struggles. I find much more enjoyment when I am out on the trails with a friend, and in the heat this is amplified. Nothing bonds a friendship quite like a shared experience of a relentless ridgeline in savage conditions. There are plenty of run meetups to chose from to collectively complain about the heat together. Asia Trail Girls, Lantau Base Camp and Gone Running are just a few options here in HK.


Finally, and most importantly, there is no better mental training to prepare yourself for those moments during races when you don’t want to run anymore; than lacing your shoes and heading out for a run on a hot summers day. Learning to be comfortable in discomfort is a skill that spills into other aspects of my life, like doing chores that are boring, or pushing myself to meet a deadline. Ultimately I know that if I can suck it up, (try to) limit my whining and get on with it, when the cooler weather hits I will be hitting the ground running.