While in some parts of the country, some may disagree, it is officially spring and spring is in the air! You can feel it, smell it, hear it and it’s time get your run on outdoors after a winter of hibernating indoors. If this sounds like you and you’ve been unsure how to, procrastinating, and hiding on the elliptical while watching The Food Network in the warmth comfort of your gym, now is the time to get back out there. Here are a few tips to get you pumped about the seasonal shift and to reintroduce outdoor mileage without injury.
Ease in: Even if you kept up your fitness level working out indoors in the winter, the impact of running outdoors won’t be the same as the indoor alternatives. The spring rains and wind, uneven surfaces from rough winter road conditions and pounding pavement is going to take readjusting for your body. To avoid injury, ease back into your outdoor mileage levels, sticking to the tried and true 10% rule: keep increases from week to week no more than 10%.
Schedule it: schedule your outdoor runs in amidst other cross-training to allow your body to get re-accustomed to the stress (and possible aches) of outdoor running. Strength training on complimentary muscle groups, yoga to lengthen the muscles and increase mobility and low impact options like swimming will help you get back into top form quickly.
Mix it up: map out some new routes (start with flatter ones) and explore different neighbourhoods, enjoy the budding trees and nature during the seasonal change, and take advantage of running earlier and later as the days get longer. Getting back to nature and breathing in fresh air has psychological, physical and physiological benefits. Sneak in a tree hug for bonus points.
Check your gear: When’s the last time you got new shoes! If it’s time for new shoes (it’s not always how many miles are on them but other factors like harsh weather, salt, sand, wearing them for cross training), go get fitted for a new pair and ensure that you’re being fitted through an assessment of your feet and natural gait. While you’re at it, maybe buy a new outfit too – it is my experience that an awesome light layered pullover that matches your flashy new kicks makes you run faster.
Consider your fuel: through the winter, we tend to eat heavier, warming and comforting foods. Whether we’re training or not, seasons can affect our diets and once the thaw hits, it is a good time to check in and do a dietary spring cleaning. Making shifts towards eating more unprocessed foods, increasing intake of natural whole foods, and fueling with clean protein and carbohydrate picks will also help in recovery as the intensity of training ramps back up. Learn more about proper nutrition!
About the Author: Alice Toyonaga is a yoga teacher, runner and bureaucrat. She is best described by her friends as a goal-setter with seemingly limitless endurance and a gift for multi-tasking. Convinced she sleeps in plank, her friends also know that in order to see her socially, they either have to join one of the many run clubs she is a part of or attend her challenging yet grounding yoga classes.