It’s that time of year again where runners get an extra spring in their step. With longer days, warmer temperatures and added sunshine, runners are coming out of winter hibernation and hitting the trails. However, if you cut back on your running during the winter, you’ll want to ease back into it to avoid injury and burnout. Here are a few tips to consider.
EXAMINE YOUR GEAR:
Whether you took the winter off or continued running through the rough conditions, you’ll want to examine how worn out your running gear is. For shoes, typically a good pair last between 300 and 500 miles. If you don’t know the mileage, your body will tell you when it’s time for new shoes by random aches and pains in your shins and knees, or your shoe tread will be worn down and flat. If you only have winter-specific running shoes (i.e. screw shoes, Gortex), be sure to invest in lighter shoes with thin mesh for breathability.
With perfect running weather in sight, don’t become overzealous in your training. Running too much too soon can lead to injuries and burnout early in the season. Instead, gradually increase your miles and speed as your body transitions back into the running routine. Increase your pace and distance slowly - no more than 10 percent each week. This will ensure you stay healthy and injury-free. Another way to safely increase endurance is by incorporating two-a-day workouts. Start doing this once or twice a week, with a high-intensity first run, followed by an easy jog. Or, you can reverse the order. Be sure to have at least five hours in between each workout to give your body time to recover.
It’s time to swap out your heavy layers with cooler, thinner running clothes. With warmer weather, you’ll want to wear light and thin pieces. Aim for tech fabrics with cooling technology and UV protection to help absorb sweat, stay dry and reduce the risk of sunburns. Try Zoot Sport’s moisture-sensitive tech fabric called IceFil® - it provides moisture-activated cooling technology and reduces skin temperature up to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Morning runs still might be a little chilly, so be sure to have lightweight leggings and a ventilated jacket. Overall, look for clothing that is lightweight, breathable and wicks away sweat to keep you from overheating. Since springtime brings rain showers, having a water-resistance running jacket can’t hurt.
LONGER RUNS? ADD ACCESSORIES:
If the warmer temps and nice weather motivate you to run far, be sure you are set with the right gear. As a tip, have one day a week to focus on a long, slow endurance run (10-12 miles). Be sure to have extra tools like fuel belts, handheld bottles, backside pockets and running hydration packs to maintain nutrition and hydration on your long runs. Check out Ultimate Direction’s line of lightweight hydration packs and vests if you’re in the market for one. It’s a good idea to have pockets in these accessories to store some food as well. Nutrition companies like GU, First Endurance, and CLIF make easily digestible running fuel to give your body quick nourishment on the go. But take note that your body can take a while getting used to eating on the run.
Although temperatures are warmer than winter, early spring can be pretty cool out, making it easy to forget about hydration. Your body loses water during exercise and perspiration, so it’s important to replenish your body with water and electrolytes during warm workouts. For endurance athletes, it’s important to consume water before, during, and after physical activities. Typically, you want to aim for eight glasses of water a day, but that may not be enough depending on your activity and intensity level. Sports drinks are great for regaining electrolytes, sodium and potassium levels, but try to avoid drinks with added sugar. Coconut water is an effective and natural way to regain lost fluids due to its high levels of potassium, which helps balance electrolytes in the body.
SET A GOAL:
There are many factors that motivate runners once the weather gets nice. To stick with your running routine, find activities that will drive your running forward. For example, commit to a local running group once a week to connect with other runners and explore more ground together. Or, sign up for a race in late spring or early summer to help stay on track. Nowadays there are races for various running abilities, so find one suitable for you and your comfort level like a fun color run, rugged Ragnar Series race, competitive road race, or a mountainous trail run. Setting and reaching a goal is a great motivator in itself.
Celebrate the end of those dark, cold running days by enjoying and appreciating the added sunlight outdoors. So take a breath of fresh air, smell the roses and hit the trails!Article courtesy of Balega Socks