5 tips to spring into outdoor running season

Spring is in the air, and there are dozens of area runs that signal a start to the summer running season. Although Colorado weather allows for nearly year-round running, it’s this time of year that runners are ramping up and getting ready outside for greater distances and frequency. As you tune up, here are five tips to keep you moving forward.

  1. Ramp up slowly. Especially if you’ve only been hitting the treadmill occasionally all winter, let’s face it; running outside just isn’t the same. (Hills anyone?) Ease into increases in distance and frequency. Whether a novice or experienced runner, gradual increases that reflect your ability and fitness are keys to sustained commitment and progress.
  2. Find the best running surfaces. Runners are often creatures of habit, which usually means extensive time on the same surface.  If you  spend most of your time on pavement, it’s time to find some softer routes to include in your routine. Softer surfaces (dirt trails, grass, turf and yes, even the treadmill) offer a great break to your routine and your body and should be included once a week.
  3. Know what kind of runner you are.  And no, we don’t mean fast or slow. Understanding if your feet tend to roll inward (pronation) or outward (supination) can help you to keep logging the miles by wearing the right type of shoe, or supporting orthotic, if needed. Learn how to determine your type with the wet foot test
  4. Avoid Overuse. Runners get the most out of their body when they listen to its needs. We are often the most focused on how our bodies respond during a run, but pay attention to the before and after. Warm ups set the stage for a good run, and when your run is done, remember your body isn’t. Proper refueling, rest and stretching will improve your recovery.
  5. Know when to replace your shoes. If you wait until you see sole breakdown, you’re too late. A good rule of thumb for shoe replacement is every 300-400 miles. When the midsoles of your shoes begin to breakdown, your stability and cushion declines and you are at risk for injury, especially joint and knee damage. Regular runners have good instincts and when they begin to experience unusual fatigue or shin pain, so listen to your body: it may be reminding you to take a closer look at your equipment.

Running offers many rewards and running in Colorado is an extra bonus. As you shake off the winter blues and hit the road this month, responsible preparation and planning will keep you on the road all summer long.