Run Safely This Spring
Winter is coming to an end, and if you're a runner, this means it's time to hit the beautiful trails and scenic, pavement routes through town. The transition from winter to spring running can be challenging, but with these tips and tricks, we'll have you logging excellent runs in no time.
From Treadmill to Road
Running on a treadmill is (generally) easier than hitting the pavement because the moving belt limits the amount of stress placed on your joints. When you run outside, the constantly changing terrain requires more energy--not to mention the added wind resistance, which can increase the difficulty of your run by 2-10%. In order to make up for this extra workload, your body will require more oxygen, making it extremely taxing to maintain the same pace you may be able to run at, indoors. So, take it slow. This transition isn't simple, even for experienced runners, and there's no shame in slowing down, shortening your run, or working on exercises to help make your run more comfortable and enjoyable.
All forms of exercise, including running, involves breaking down muscle and repairing it to increase muscle strength and bone density. When the muscle breakdown is greater than the repair, injury is much more likely. On a treadmill, the flexible belt allows a little "give," allowing your body to absorb shock. Unfortunately, cement and other hard-surfaced trails don't "give," which means that your body will endure much more stress than it would on a treadmill. So, what should you do?
Decrease your distance!
Take the time to allow your body to repair effectively. If you ran 4 days a week on the treadmill during winter, decrease your runs to 3 or 2 times a week. Leave rest days between runs so your bones, muscles, and tendons can slowly rebuild and strengthen themselves.
Exercises to Improve your Run
In addition to decreasing your distance and allowing adequate rest time between runs, strengthening your leg muscles is essential to reducing shock and preventing injury. Try these 3 exercises to help the transition from winter to spring running!
1. Single leg heel raises
Single-leg heel raises will help strengthen your calves and prevent those nasty shin splints that are so common in the spring and summer months. We suggest doing these a couple of times a week, starting with 10-12 reps. If this is too challenging, try holding onto a chair for balance, or start with double-leg heel raises, slowly progressing to single-leg!
2. Body-weight squat
A squat is a compound exercise, meaning it will work multiple muscles in one move--hamstrings, glutes, quads, core, and back. Strengthening your lower extremities will help your body absorb shock as well as reduce joint pain.
3. Single leg balance
Although a single leg balance seems like an easy exercise, being strong whilst standing on one leg is necessary in order to avoid injury during runs. Try this exercise a few times a week, and when it gets too easy, try it with your eyes closed! Eventually, you may be able to add variations to this exercise to further improve your single leg stance strength.
Importance of Hydration!
As it gets warmer and warmer, running outside will cause you to sweat more heavily. Because our body is ~70% water, losing more water through sweat means you'll have to increase your water intake.
You must replenish yourself!
Dehydration will affect both your mental and physical performance on a run. The problem is, it's very easy to ignore the warning signs of dehydration until it's too late. Even a 5-degree temperature increase warrants a significant increase in your water intake! Dizziness, fatigue, and cramping are all warning signs that your body isn't receiving enough water. It is important that you drink water all day long, not simply just prior to or during a run. All-day water consumption will ensure your body has the energy and fluids to keep you cruising!
Keep Your Shoes Up to Date
Running on a treadmill may be tricking you into thinking that your shoes are still performing well. This isn't always the case.
Even after a year of running on a treadmill your shoe may still have treads on the bottom. This does NOT mean that the layer of cushion hasn't worn down. The shoe is providing cushion to your body as your foot lands on the treadmill, so while the shoes may appear new, the mid-sole is inevitably broken down and in need of a good "check-up." Most shoes should be retired after 300-500 miles, so keep track of your mileage and replace your running shoes as needed! Finally, listen to your body. If something feels off while running in your shoes, something probably is. Maybe it's time for a new pair of shoes, a shoe-fitting by running professionals, or even a trip to our office for more intense care.