The summer solstice occurs twice a year when the Earth’s axis is tilted most closely toward the sun. The solstice on the 21st of June marks the unofficial start of winter, as the hemisphere tilted most toward our home star sees its longest day, while the hemisphere tilted away sees its longest night. In other words, the evenings start to get darker.
So, what does this means for runners? The summer solstice may have more of an impact than you think.
Changes To Training Schedules
Due to the solstice, we’ll lose 5 hours and 44 minutes of daylight, and those evening runs become a little less appealing when its dark out. This means having to adapt our routines to fit training into daylight hours, which can be impractical, disruptive, and sometimes just isn’t possible.
Reduced Training Time
In the worst case scenario, we just can’t find the time to train as daylight get shorter. Especially when trying to fit in training around work and life, there literally just aren’t enough (light) hours in the day.
It’s no surprise that with reduced training time comes decreased performance. It can be incredibly disheartening to lose some of the progress made during the summer months, as time and stamina begin to decrease.
To prevent the performance decline, some of us will switch from pounding the pavement to pounding the treadmill. Though aside from the fact that running on the treadmill can be monotonous when compared to running the road, gyms are costly and an added expense.
Impact on Mental Health
The longer nights and lack of sunlight can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When we detect darkness, the pineal gland in the brain releases melatonin, responsible for our sleep cycles, so our bodies are being forced to be awake when the brain thinks it should be asleep. Conversely, when we detect light, our melatonin levels increase, and serotonin, the natural mood elevator, takes over.
Running is a brilliant way to de-stress and clear your head after a long day of work, so combine the impact of SAD with decreased training time can have a serious affect on our mental health.
A biggest concern when running in the dark is road safety, and the fear around staying visible. Every 22 minutes someone is killed or seriously injured on UK roads.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let the summer solstice determine when and where you train. Stay safe and be seen with a Million Mile Light. Completely battery free, powered by kinetic energy from your movement. You never have to worry about it running out while you’re out running.