Are you ready for spring? Here are some tips to help you get your running out of the winter doldrums.
Spring is just around the corner and it’s time to ramp up the running program. Maybe you’re one of those fortunate folks who live in the southern climes, but for those of us in the northerly regions, running tends to suffer during the winter months.
Yes, some runners are diligent about running indoors during the winter, or finding time midday to get bundled up and hit the pavement, but the combination of cold weather, icy roads and sidewalks, and short, dark days usually means running takes a back seat in wintertime.
If your running has been in hibernation for the last few months, here are a few tips to help you make the transition to spring running as gentle as late March’s proverbial lamb:
Check your Shoes
If you haven’t bought shoes since last year, it may be time to take a look at them. Most running shoes last about 300-500 miles, and even if you didn’t run too much the last few months, the wet slush and ice of winter running can be tough on footwear. Examine your shoe’s tread and midsole (the mushy part between the tread and the slipper). If your tread is worn, especially at the outer heels, or you can easily “smush” the midsole down with your hands, it’s probably time for a new pair.
In fact, spring can be so rainy and wet that you may want to get two pairs of the same make and model shoe, so you have a dry pair to wear while wet shoes are drying out.
Even if you cross-trained diligently over the winter and tried to run frequently, you now have the opportunity to run outdoors in the light and fine spring weather. After being either locked indoors or slogging through the cold in bundled layers, the temptation is strong to go a little nuts and run fast and furious. Avoid the temptation! Unfortunately, doing too much too soon is one of the surest routes to injury. A good rule of thumb is never to increase your mileage by more than ten percent a week.
Another component to starting slow and working out the kinks is stretching. Always important (though often neglected), stretching is even more crucial when you are running at a different temperature, different speed, or greater frequency than you have been for the last few months. Remember, it’s best to stretch after running a slow mile or so, or if you don’t wish to do that, stretch after your run (think of it as stretching for tomorrow’s run). It’s better than stretching before running, when your muscles are cold.
When it comes to spring weather, the only constant is change. During the course of a forty-five minute run, you can encounter temperature swings, changes in wind speed, and a sky that goes from sunny to pouring. Knowing how to dress can be a challenge. Your best bet is to go layered, but don’t overdo it. If you are comfortable, or worse, too warm when you start a run, you are probably overdressed. It’s best too be a little on the cool side at the start of a run so you don’t eventually overheat. Windbreakers, lycra tights and long-sleeved T’s are all good for chilly spring runs. You don’t want to be bogged down in your heavy winter running gear. If it’s warm, shorts are of course appropriate, but if you wear shorts on a cold or rainy day your legs will never warm up and you’ll be miserable the whole time.
You probably don’t need to be told this. If you’re like most runners, you feel like an animal let out of a cage when spring rolls around. This is one of the best times of year for runners. So get out there and listen to the birdies, smell the flowers, splash in the puddles, and have a ball!
Tags: running, sports, spring