Put the Spring Back in Your Step: 5 Tips for Your Warm Weather Running Revival

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RunVermont's expert tips help ensure a safe, smooth transition this spring for runners of any level.

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With warming temperatures, melted snow and sunnier days, those excuses for not getting outside are wearing thin. For runners that used the winter weather as an excuse to retire their shoes for the season, it’s time to hit the road once again, but getting back into the running groove doesn’t always happen as quickly or easily as you would like it to. The following tips from the running experts at RunVermont help make the transition back into regular running safer, easier and more enjoyable this spring.

RunVermont is a not-for-profit business that offers a variety of competitive and educational programs for adults and children, including the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay taking place on May 27 this year.

Check your shoes.
One of the first steps of getting back into running is to check your running shoes. For those that haven’t been running over the winter, putting on your old running shoes can actually be detrimental to your body. With time, the cushioning breaks down, stiffens and hardens, and your shoes will no longer provide the support your body needs. Those who run regularly should aim to replace their shoes every 300-500 miles, or about every six months. Running outside also expedites the wear and tear on your shoes compared to running on the treadmill. Your old sneakers don’t need to go right to the trash and can still be saved for shorter runs during messy conditions.

Evaluate yourself.
When you start running again, it is important to realize that you have had a layoff from running, even if you’ve stayed active throughout the winter. Your first run should be an evaluation – stay relatively close to home on a familiar route, remember to do plenty of stretching before and after your run, and don’t be afraid to walk, stop, or take it slow. Your body needs to adapt to running again and picking up where you left off isn’t going to be immediate, even if you left off at the marathon finish line.

If you are transitioning from running indoors on a treadmill to running outside, it’s going to feel more difficult and can be especially hard on your knees. Plan your route to avoid intense and numerous uphills or downhills when first starting out again. If your body is unaccustomed to it, running at a steep decline can cause micro tears in your quads, and your knees will stiffen up. Try to balance the uphills and downhills, or pick a relatively flat route to begin.

Dress the part.
Spring can be a tricky time of year for choosing the appropriate apparel thanks to the unexpected rain, wind and sun that can lurk around each turn. Layering is always important, with a wicking fabric as your first layer to draw moisture off your skin. As weather can change drastically during the course of a run, research what conditions you should expect. If you are going out for a longer run, you may want to test what you are wearing before you begin.

A good rule of thumb is to dress for 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is, since your body temperature will rise throughout your run. It’s easy to overheat as the weather warms because although we still feel the chill in the air, your body will heat up much faster than it did during the winter. Feeling a little chilly before you begin your run is a good sign you’re not overdressed. It’s important to remember that you are still at risk for hypothermia on cooler or rainy days, so a thin pair of gloves, thin hat and vest are all good pieces to layer with. Look for layers that can easily be tied around your waist once you begin to warm up.

Stay hydrated.
As you begin exercising again, it’s common to start sweating more than you were, especially as the weather warms up. It is important to hydrate both before and after running, as well as having the option to hydrate during your run to prevent dehydration. Even if you wouldn’t normally bring a drink for a six to eight mile run, it’s recommended to bring a hand bottle or a few dollars to stop for a drink along the way.

Establish a goal.
Having a goal is crucial to getting back into your running routine. Picking a race to train for or joining a relay team is a great way to get motivated. Whether it is a 5K, 10K or even a marathon in your future, make a running calendar to help plan these goals and stay on track. It is important to give yourself enough time to train so you don’t feel rushed, but not to plan too far ahead so you lose sight of what you’re working towards. Many larger race events, like the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, offer a relay option that is great for those who have not participated in a competition before. Plus, being part of a team will give you running partners and the drive to get moving!

For more information about RunVermont and the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, please visit http://www.runvermont.org.

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Julia Lyon
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