Posted April 10, 2022 by Nilesh Shah, MD
Spring breathes new life into the grass, plants and trees around us — and hopefully your training routine, too. As temperatures rise and the days get longer, many runners are eager to jump off the treadmill and into the outdoors.
But whether you’re an avid runner, looking to increase your miles or are just starting out for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind before you head out the door.
After frigid temps and busy holiday schedules, you may have cut back on your runs or taken a break altogether. It’s important to slowly build up your routine and get back into the miles. If you’re too enthusiastic and do too much too soon, spring training can quickly lead to injury.
Planning ahead with a good training regimen and smart preparations can help ensure a smooth transition. Summa Health offers 5 spring training tips for runners that will pay off in the long run with an injury-free season. Off to the races!
Check your gear
Over time the cushioning in your running shoes breaks down and it doesn’t absorb shock like it once did. Without supportive and properly cushioned shoes, the pounding from running can wreak havoc on your joints.
Before ramping up your schedule, check your shoes and make sure they’re ready for an increase in training miles. As a general rule, you should replace your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles, depending on your size, weight and running mechanics. Jotting down in your logbook when you switched to a new pair of shoes is a great way to easily keep track of when it’s time to replace them the next time.
Get a physical
Starting out the season with a physical will pay off in the long run. A provider can point out new health problems or help you deal with an old injury that might interfere with your spring training. For example, if you’re experiencing increasing asthma attacks, you might need a different type of inhaler or dosage adjustment for easier breathing while running.
In addition, your provider may have some good training tips and give you tailored stretches or exercises to help you avoid injury throughout the season.
Increase mileage gradually
Slow and steady wins the race. You don’t want to jump right back in at the same pace and distance you were going last fall. Dramatic increases in mileage and speed, along with a change in running surfaces, can lead to injury.
Start with a slower pace and shorter durations to get your body used to the mileage again. The general rule is to stick to a 10 percent increase in mileage week-over-week. Also, try interval training to build stamina and your pace, but don’t start speedwork until you’ve been running steadily for several weeks.
Using a logbook to keep track of your pace and mileage increases can help ensure you don’t do too much too soon.
Set goals and a running schedule
Playing it smart will help ensure a long and injury-free season. Setting goals keeps you accountable and gives you purpose for getting in those miles. Then, putting together a good running schedule to achieve those goals allows for gradual improvement and keeps you from overdoing it.
Signing up for easier, shorter races in the spring is a great way to help you ease back into a regular training routine. Plus, training for a specific event can be highly motivating.
Fit in warm-up, cross training and recovery time
Stretching before and after your workout helps to prevent muscle and joint pain, and injury. At least five to 10 minutes of a dynamic warm-up before a run is key to providing more blood flow to muscles and joints, which increases flexibility and reduces your risk for injury.
Then after your workout, stretching is just as important. Blood is already flowing, so your muscles are more pliable and you can increase your flexibility for the long run. It also means less tightness and soreness after a heavy workout.
In addition, fitting in one to two days a week of strength training, core strengthening and cross training to become a well-rounded athlete will keep you from being sidelined with an injury.
Lastly, it’s important to make sure you give your body enough recovery time in between workouts. That way, your body can better adapt to getting stronger and reduce your risk of injury.
We’re all ready for the snow to melt so we can get out there and run in the sun and mild temperatures. Just be sure to follow these spring training tips to avoid getting hurt. It’ll be a spring awakening to your running regimen.
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