Fall is definitely my favorite running season, but I have to say that spring is a very close second. After a winter of running in frigid temps and ridiculous wind chills, I love breaking out my running capris and short-sleeve shirts and seeing all the signs of spring popping out on my runs.
It’s very tempting to jump back into a regular running routine once the weather warms up. But if you took a bit of a running break during the winter, don’t expect to be running at the same level as you did in the fall. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you ease back into running:
1. Don’t do too much, too soon.
It’s tempting to get out there and start running every day when the weather is beautiful. But if your running was inconsistent during the winter, you should start your spring training with some short, easy runs — no more than 3 or 4 miles at a time. Don’t run two days in a row. One of the easiest ways to get injured is to ramp up your mileage too soon, before you’ve established a good running base. Don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent per week.
2. Watch your intensity.
Be patient with your running — it could take as long as 4-6 weeks to re-build your running base. Don’t introduce hill running or speed training until you have a solid base. And make sure you give yourself enough recovery time in between hard workouts. Don’t do a hard workout and a long run two days in a row. Be proactive and keep these tips for injury prevention in mind.
3. Get used to running outside again.
Running on the treadmill is a lot different than running outside. For one thing, you need to pay attention when you’re outside and always be aware of your surroundings. I love zoning out when I’m on the treadmill, but that just doesn’t fly when running outside. You need to always pay attention and be aware of cars, bikes, dogs, other runners, cracks in the sidewalk, branches or rocks on the trails, and numerous other potential hazards. Always stay alert and make sure someone knows where you’re running and when you’ll be back, if you’re running alone.In addition to safety concerns, running outside can be physically tougher than treadmill running. You use slightly different muscles when running outside so, if you did mostly treadmill running over the winter, you may experience some soreness, especially in your lower legs. Do some toes raises and heel raises after your runs to help stretch and strengthen your calves.
4. Look ahead, don’t look back.
If you took some time off from running, you may be frustrated that you’ve lost some fitness over the winter. Don’t go there. It happens. Even professional runners take time off and have to re-build fitness. Don’t beat yourself up and put pressure on yourself to return to your previous level quickly. You’ll have plenty of time to train and make progress before the summer and fall racing season. Just enjoy running in beautiful weather as you work on building up your fitness level gradually and safely.
5. Enjoy the views.
One of my great pleasures of running outside in the spring is the fabulous views of nature. Although I frequently run on the same roads and trails, the scenery is constantly changing in the spring. I love noticing new flowers that seemed to have bloomed overnight. And, an added bonus: The bugs aren’t out yet!
Also see: Tips for Running With Seasonal Allergies