Summer is nearly here!

Beware of icy patches

Forget Christmas, my birthday, and the start of the new tax year - my favourite day of the year is the one where the clocks go forward. I'm completely fed up with the cold, wind, rain, darkness and general misery - and I've spent the winter months painstakingly forgetting what it's like to be eaten alive by midges, inflamed by stingy nettles, brought wheezing to my knees by pollen, and heckled ineffectively by drunks in beer gardens. I'm ready for summer, and I'm ready now!

Regular visitors to Fetcheveryone will know that I enjoy mining our database for interesting statistics - and I thought it would be good to look for evidence that not only does the sun bring light and warmth and Union Jack shorts, it also makes us better runners. Beat a path through the ironic snow, and make yourself comfortable.

The first graph shows the most popular times of day to run, based on eight years of watching you lot from my internet bushes. There's a peak at 9am, when the kids have gone to school; another at midday, when the world goes on lunch break; and the biggest peak of them all at 7pm. If you've ever wondered why the site is a bit sluggish in the early evenings, there's the reason right there.

The red line shows the subtle difference that summer time brings. More early morning runs, more early evening runs, and less time spent running during working hours. From that, you could suggest that BST makes runners more productive workers - but in reality, it just means they can spend more time on Fetch!

And what about speed? I wanted to see whether the summer leaves us sticking to melting tarmac, or transforms us into gleaming speed machines. Longer races tend to have two fairly well-defined ‘seasons' in spring and autumn, so I looked at 5k races, which thanks to parkrun are becoming an all-year-round experience.

As I write, the Fetch rankings hold personal best times at 5k for over 6000 runners - and the second graph shows the months in which those best times were achieved. 834 runners collected their PB in July - a clear indication that running in the sunshine makes you amazing!

It fits with the anecdotal stuff I've heard from experienced runners -winter is spent doing base training, churning out the low intensity miles, building aerobic fitness - leading into marathon season in spring, before stepping down through the distances and increasing the pace in the warmer months.

But step away from the numbers for a bit, and think about the simple pleasures that contribute to summer happiness. There's less kit to wear, which means less to find, and less to wash. And it dries quicker! Waiting for your watch to communicate with the International Space Station doesn't involve anywhere near as much swearing, as your goose pimples multiply. Run near open water and there's a plentiful supply of protein - just run with your mouth open, and try not to gag as the mini-beasts fly straight in. And when nature calls, there's ample undergrowth to choose from.

Nearly the best thing about summer running, particularly for those that have busy working lives is the chance to explore those off-road routes without the need for head torches and/or frequent trips to A&E with a handful of ankle fragments. Run with a club and you can see the smiles all round as pavements are abandoned in favour of pathways, and health and safety is put aside for another six months.

And the best thing? That doesn't change. It's the bit where you get back, and you're full of that feeling you only get when you've just been running. But in the summer time, you can do it in a deckchair in the garden with a glass of something cold and a few more midges.

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Leave a comment...

  • Great article. Really ready for summer too - but not looking forward to the clocks changing - early morning runs are going to be completed in the dark again from next Monday
  • Ahhh....summer time! :-)

    A little tease of what we have to come (I hope) meanwhile this morning I had to dig my car out of the snow in order to get to work!
  • Ah - thanks for the reminder about Summer but will it ever arrive I despair of even seeing the Spring at the moment ....
  • My favourite day of the year as well can't wait my cycle commute to work will start to be lighter
  • Top stuff Mr Fetch sir.
  • Excellent. Can you arrange for Summer to actually arrive this year please :)
  • I'm sitting at my desk with fingerless gloves scarf and heater blasting and dreaming of sunny days
  • return of the graphs oh how I have missed them :) good stuff!
  • Interesting stuff. I am part of the 'red line shift' mainly due to the occasional races that happen in the evening during the summer - other than that I am mostly a lunchtime runner.

    I'm sure most PBs at our local parkrun are set in the summer - more to do with the course conditions and lack of mud than the state of the runners themselves though.
  • So very true especially the bit about undergrowth when nature calls. There is a certain amount of panic when all thats available are bare sticks!
  • Cracking article and graphage :)
  • Oh fabuloso one Fetch. I want it to be summer sunshine and sweaty face running now please. :-)G
  • Born in a hot and summer climate so all for it myself!! Sunbed by name sunbed by nature :) :)
  • Most of my 5k races are Parkrun. In winter our park is either ice or mud; both slippery and tough to run fast on!
  • Great article Sir !
  • how does it look 'day of the week' wise between summer and not summer months
  • Get that washing up done. :-P Nice article lovely. :-) Mmmm Italian running. :-)
  • :) Loved the if only summer would hurry up. I'm fed up with this unseasonably cold's just not right for the end of March!!
  • This gives us all hope nice blog sir. and excellent online nagging for your lovely Mrs :-)
  • humorous comment about current weather
  • I reckon lots of people might go and sit in the pub beer garden at lunch in summer whereas in winter they might as well run at lunch!
  • Cue song
  • Summer... I've almost forgotten what that is! Great article and I can't wait to be able to run when I don't resemble the Michellin woman with a hundred layers on to make sure I come back with all my fingers and haven't lost any through frostbite :-)
  • Just want it to be here now!
  • Thanks Fetch - reading this made me feel hopeful about getting some warmer sunnier weather :)
  • There was sun today...I think it's almost here :)
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In the summer, the weather always looks like this. Always.
Getty / Harrison Eastwood

The most popular time to run is 7pm. In the summer more of us wait 'til the evening - summer makes runners better workers!

Summer is the most popular time to get a 5k PB. 834 Fetchies got their PB in July, compared to just 280 in January.

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