Summer is finally here! It’s getting warmer outside, school is letting out, and a whole new season full of possibilities is upon us. But along with all of the great things that summer offers – like excellent weather, natural beauty, vacation opportunities, and much more – it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. Whether you’re out of school and faced with a whole new routine, or just eager to maximize your outside time when you’re not at work, sticking to your martial arts and/or fitness training can be particularly hard at this time of year.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with some tips that we hope will help to keep you motivated all summer long.
1. Stay Cool
Beating the heat is important for both your motivation and your wellbeing when it comes to training in the summer. Being overheated can make you feel too sluggish and lazy to want to tackle your workout, and training too hard in high temperatures can have a negative impact on your health. So wear seasonally appropriate gear, keep a refreshing beverage nearby, and know your limits when you take up any physical activity in this weather.
And if your own temperature is still running too high, try cooling down before you warm up. “Multiple studies indicate that a cold shower, bath, or even ice pack applied to strategic places (such as the back of your neck) before a workout may help not only cool your skin, but also reduce your core body temperature,” Maria Trimarchi writes for How Stuff Works Health. “Cooling your muscles before a workout reduces their power, but if you’re exercising in hot, humid temperatures, pre-cooling may be beneficial. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Psychology found that when muscles are cool, in this instance after being submerged in 53 degree F water, the men in the experiment initially had a lower heart rate while exercising when compared to those whose muscles hadn’t been treated to the cold-water bath.”
2. Plan Ahead
If you’re taking regular martial arts classes, you already have the benefit of a built-in routine planned out for you. But if you’re trying to figure out where and when to fit in your individual practice and workout routines in your eventful summer plans, The Active Times’ Karina Stabile suggests a little bit of forward thinking and time budgeting.
“‘The busy schedule’ is one of the most common reasons people have for skipping a workout,” she writes. “Create an exercise plan for the week – look ahead at your calendar and decide when you have some available time. Even if it’s only 20 minutes, find a way to fit something in.”
3. Think About Your Goals
It can be hard to think about the big picture when summer offers an almost limitless number of distractions, so taking a moment to reflect on what you want out of your training over the long term can help to keep you on track.
Running coach Laura wrote explores this idea in a post on her blog, This Runner’s Recipes. Although she’s specifically addressing runners and races, her wisdom can easily apply to martial artists and tournaments or general fitness goals as well.
“The key to achieving your long-term goals is consistency over months and years of running, rather than a singular strong training season. Use your reach-for-the-stars training goal – even if it’s not one you plan to achieve in the next 12 months – to motivate you to stay consistent in your running,” she writes. “Even just a few miles a day can have a significant impact on your ability to achieve future goals, and that should be motivation to keep you running.”
As Karina Sabile points out, every single workout and training session is important. “Each one can be ‘the one’ that makes the big difference, where you push yourself harder or realize you are stronger than you thought. Why risk missing out on that?”
4. Stick To Your Plan
Once you have an idea of what your weekly or monthly routine will look like in your head, start following it until it starts to become a a summer habit.
“Sure, it’s going to be a struggle at first adjusting to a routine when the sun is shining, and it’s humid out,” Lori Eggers writes for LesMills. “But after a while you’ll start to feel healthy, happy, and bursting with those magic endorphins that boost your confidence. Be gentle with yourself at first but stick with your with your plan and the results will come.”
5. Enjoy Your Downtime… In Moderation
Summer vacation, if you’re lucky enough to have it (and summer nights and weekends if you’re not) is filled with opportunities for fun and relaxation that you can and should take advantage of. Just make sure that you don’t completely abandon your training along the way.
“We all need breaks once in a while; however, don’t stand still for too long because dormant energy is a huge obstruction to progress,” life coach and empowerment coach Diane Passage writes for The Huffington Post. “Neuroscientists have found that when someone experiences periods of low motivation, their ambition can significantly spiral downward when faced with difficult tasks. So, vacation and breaks: YES! Inactivity: NO! If you’re faced with an overwhelming or unpleasant responsibility this August, break it down into simple steps if you need to just to keep the energy moving.”
Responsible fluid intake won’t just keep you cool, it will also benefit your health and your performance, especially during these hot summer months.
“Don’t forget that water bottle!” Barry Hill writes in an article on Fit After Fifty – and that advice applies for anyone under that age, too. “Drink several ounces of water during your workout, about four to six ounce every 15 minutes. For that matter, make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day – before and after your workout. You will avoid drinking too much water at once, which can cause upset stomach or cramping.”
In an article for Fitness Magazine by Hallie Levine Sklar, Leslie Bonci, RD, the director of sports medicine nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests adding fruit to your diet to keep your hydration game fresh and delicious because “they provide the perfect mix of carbs and fluid and they’re easily digestible in the summer heat.”
“They’re more than 80 percent water, so fruits such as grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew area a tasty way to replenish fluids and boost your energy post-workout,” Sklar adds. “If you’ve lost a lot of salt (hint: your clothes have white stains after a workout), replace sodium by drinking a V8 or sports drink.”
What are your plans this summer? How do you intend to stay fit? Let us know in the comments!