5 Tips for Your Summer Running Revival
Restart your running regimen with tips from 18-time marathoner Jess CoverBy: Susan Rinkunas
Photo Credit: Corbis Images
For runners who used the winter weather as an excuse to retire their shoes for a few months, 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’d like it to, says Jess Cover, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and 18-time marathoner (search: best marathons for women).
Cover, an instructor with RunVermont—the running organization behind the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay—offers the following tips to help make your spring transition back to regular running safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
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Check Your ShoesOne of the first steps in resuming your running routine is to check your running shoes (Video: Running Shoe Care). For those who 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 speeds the wear and tear on your shoes compared to running on the treadmill. Your old shoes don’t need to go right to the trash; you can save them for shorter runs during messy conditions. (You can also recycle running shoes.)
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Evaluate YourselfWhen you start running again, it’s important to realize that you have had a layoff from running, even if you’ve stayed active throughout the winter. (Related: Use our 5-K Training Jumpstart Plan to get you ready) 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—picking up where you left off isn’t going to be immediate, even if you left off at the finish line of a marathon or half-marathon.
If you’re transitioning from running on the treadmill to running outside, it’s going to feel more difficult and can be especially hard on your knees. Plan your route to avoid big uphills or downhills when starting up again. If your body isn’t accustomed to it, running at a steep decline can cause micro-tears in your quad muscles, and your knees will stiffen up. Try to balance the uphills and downhills, or pick a relatively flat route to begin.
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Dress the PartSince weather can change drastically during the course of a run, research what conditions you should expect and then layer your running gear accordingly. Just choose a wicking fabric as your first layer to draw moisture off your skin.
Related: Check out our list of The Best Running Gear for Summer.
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 you’ll 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 that you’re not overdressed. It’s important to remember that you’re still at risk for hypothermia on cooler or rainy days, so a thin pair of gloves, a thin hat, and a 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.
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Stay HydratedAs you begin running again, it’s common to start sweating more than usual, especially as the weather warms up. To prevent dehydration, it’s important to hydrate both before and after running and it’s smart to have the option to hydrate during your run. Even if you wouldn’t normally bring a drink for a 45-minute run, it’s recommended to bring a handheld bottle—or a few dollars to stop for a drink along the way.
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Set a GoalHaving a goal is crucial to getting back into your running routine. Picking a race to train for or joining a running club or a relay team are great ways to get motivated. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or even a marathon in your future, make a running calendar to help plan these goals and stay on track. It’s important to give yourself enough time to train so you don’t feel rushed, but don’t plan too far ahead so you lose sight of what you’re working toward. Many larger races offer a relay option, which is great for people who haven’t run a race before or for those who aren’t ready to tackled the entire distance on their own. Plus, being part of a team will give you running partners and the drive to get moving!
Up Next: The Beginner’s Running Plan
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