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Top 5 tips for surviving summer cookouts.

The 4th of July means a cold beer at your lips and hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pasta salad and a mean looking angel food cake topped with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries with your name on it. In so many ways 4th of July BBQ’s usher in the laid-back mentality that tells you it’s time to sit back and soak up the warm weather all day long with family and friends while indulging in your favorite foods and beverages. Sounds perfect, right? Well, it is…except if you’re trying to train for a fall race.

The reality is that one day of indulging will not derail a training cycle, however over time consistently choosing to skip runs and indulge at mealtime will limit your fall training potential. A missed recovery run here and a large ice cream cone there can lead to an unmotivated and unfocused athlete. As a one-on-one coach for The Run Formula I have personally noticed many of my athletes struggling with learning how to balance the summer’s temptations with their long-term running goals. After many, many emails of waving my virtual finger at my athletes it is clear that maintaining a high level of focus while training during the summer is a true challenge for athletes. The heat and humidity don’t make it easy. Plus family BBQ’s, beach and pie-season don’t make it any easier!!

To put it in perspective consider the following: 

  • One 12 oz beer has 150 calories. Consuming four beers is equivalent to an extra 600 calories in your daily diet.
  • A cheeseburger on a bun is approximately 450 calories.
  • One homemade chocolate chip cookie is approximately 150 calories. 

Before you even consider noshing on hot dogs, pasta salad and/or chips and gaucomole the average BBQ go-er has already consumed 750 calories!! 

So how do athletes maintain the passion to train through the summer heat and determination to survive summer cookouts?

Balance. Planning. Commitment.

If your goal is to improve your running, maximize your performance at a fall race or simply live a healthy life then the road to get there is paved in balance and moderation. Of course you can go to a summer cookout. Of course you can eat a cookie and a hamburger. Just don’t eat five… of each! Planning ahead on what you are going to drink/consume during a summer cookout will help minimize the potential caloric fallout that could ensue. Athletes who eat and drink in moderation throughout the summer will be able to better execute their workouts throughout the week, the summer and long into the fall. Never forget: consistency is king in the run-game!

Here are my top 5 tips for surviving summer cookouts:

  1. Eat BEFORE you go to the BBQ! Many people arrive hungry and then feel justified in gorging themselves full of unhealthy snacks.
  2. Serve yourself. Do not graze all day by randomly picking and choosing from the bowls on the table. Make a plate for yourself where you serve yourself a typical lunch size portion. Any food consumed after that plate is extra and unnecessary snacking in-between meals.
  3. Consume the fruits and vegetables on your plate first. If you are still hungry then you can move on to other snacks, food.
  4. Choose to consume alcohol OR desert, but not both.
  5. PLAN AHEAD of how many sweets or alcoholic beverages you will consume and STICK TO IT.

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 4th of July weekend! 


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