What’s on your summer running bucket list?

Start with your long list of great intentions, but then narrow your wish list down to a few key plans and focus on making them happen

It happens ever year. The approaching August bank holiday weekend is bitter-sweet. While always a wonderful long weekend, it is also my annual reminder that summer days don’t last forever. Despite the glory days of July and plenty great running adventures behind me, I still find myself dreaming of a few things I want to do before I get back to packing school lunches in September. What about you?

We can’t do it all

With one month left before the return to autumnal routines and extra layers, what would the runner in you love to accomplish this month? Maybe you can see yourself running in a special place, meeting an old running friend or even training for a particular race. The possibilities are endless but we have got to be practical too. What do you actually have the time and resources to do? Start with your long list of great intentions, but then narrow your wish list down to a few key plans and focus on making them happen.

A little inspiration

My approach to creating my August list starts by envisaging all the running-related activities that won’t be possible in the autumn and winter. What have I time and motivation for now that will be different in a few months? Each year my list differs, and this year there are no big distance goals or exotic locations I wish to travel to. Instead my focus will be on summer routines. Let me share the five items on my August list with you for a little inspiration.

1) Yoga in the garden

I know it’s not running exactly but in recent years I have loved sticking in headphones and following along a yoga routine outdoors on a mat or, indeed, barefoot on the grass in summer. For a pre-run warm-up, a nice cool-down or, indeed, 15 minutes to myself at any time of the day, this is pure bliss. I’m committing to doing more of this in August while it’s warm enough to relax comfortably.


2) Move in the morning

I’m not putting pressure on myself to follow any strict running plan this month, but instead I want to focus on the early part of my day and get myself moving early. Be it a walk, a run or a combination of both, the fresh morning air is a wonderful start to any day. It clears my head and makes my day feel like a success before it even kicks off. This hasn’t worked for me as well in July as I had hoped, so here’s to a fresh start for August.

3) Share my love of running

I’m lucky as a coach to be able to share my passion with others and spend time with people who also love heading outdoors and getting (back) running. This August I’m committing to exploring more with the runners in my community. I’m fortunate to be able to bring a bunch of these runners on a retreat in west Cork, but for those who I don’t get to meet in person this month I’m committing to designing fresh content and resources to make getting out the door feel easier and more enjoyable this season.

4) Plan my autumn diary

I love to plan but I have spent most of the summer so far planning other people’s running futures rather than my own. Now that all the marathoners in training are well on their way I will sit down some sunny August morning, study a race calendar and come up with a few races and events that will help me stay motivated and moving throughout the autumn and winter months ahead. It really helps my running motivation to have something in the calendar to look forward to.

5) Explore more about breathing

The more we read about running the more I find there is to learn. Maybe there is a topic you are keen on exploring more. While the pile of books by my bedside is always growing, my topic of choice this month will be breathing, particularly for women in sport. From podcasts to working with a coach myself, I have committed this month to really make the time to integrate breath work into my training and coaching. Now that I have it written down it is more likely to happen!

Still on the fence?

I know my list may not strike a chord with all of you. We all have different goals, and our relationship with running is constantly changing. You might be more focused on achieving a personal best or maybe you wish to make time this month to escape for a mountain or seaside run. This could be the month you attempt your first park-run, join a running group, upgrade your new shoes or simply reconnect with an old running buddy. You might even decide to take a step back from running totally. That is just fine too. You write the script.

What’s on your bucket list?

While most of us runners love to complain about the heat of summer running in the peak of the season, we must also remember that with this warm weather comes the scenic sunset runs, the post-run ice creams, the buzz of evening races and the freedom of wearing lighter layers. We will dream of these days once they are gone so let’s make the most of our August opportunities. Create some new memories, embrace the season and finish the summer in style. Only you get to decide your personal August running bucket list. So keep it simple, write it down and go for it.

- Sign up for one of The Irish Times’s Get Running programmes (it is free!) First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.

  • Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
  • Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
  • 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark. Best of luck!

- Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie.