As the winter days pass slowly and the ground gets covered with more and more light layers of snow, you remained confined to you home gym (aka your basement with a treadmill you got from a garage sale) to assist you with all of your fitness needs. Then, one glorious day, the sun starts to pop out from behind the clouds with just enough rays to melt some of that pesky snow. It’s finally turning into “spring” weather and you couldn’t be more excited! Here are some tips for how to transition to running back outdoors because running indoors and outdoors is definitely not the same. There are different tolls taken on your body, and to make sure that you are prepared for being outside again, please take these tips into consideration.
- Wear Layers-Even though the sun may begin to show its face from behind the ominous sky, there is still a chance (especially in the Midwest) that the weather will still be quite brisk. To make up for this, wear layers because you can always take them off if you happen to get warm; however, if you don’t wear a lot of layers and you get cold while running, you won’t have the same luxury. When you start to run outside again when it is chillier, you will want to keep your muscles warm throughout your whole workout because they haven’t been exposed to the cold in a while. This will help to prevent muscle strains or pulls by keeping your muscles warm before, during and after a workout.
- Drink Water-This is MAJOR. When it is cooler out, you may not feel the need to drink water because your body doesn’t feel as thirsty as it would in summer. Conversely, just because it is cold out, doesn’t mean your muscles don’t need water! They will be depleted of nutrients regardless of the time of year. If you drink water before your run, to help with your endurance and with muscle cramps, why not bring a small bottle along with you for during?! This will help you immensely, especially the day after - you could have less joint/muscle pain.
- Gravel, Not Asphalt. When you start your outdoor adventures again, start on soft surfaces. Running on a treadmill and running on asphalt ARE NOT the same. Sure you are “moving forward” on a treadmill, but in reality, you are staying in place. When you are outdoors, you are actually propelling your body forward. If you jump right to running onto asphalt, this will be a big transition for your joints. Treadmills are much more responsive to your footsteps and provide little friction, but asphalt is a hard material that can hurt your legs and even cause shin splints because of too quick of a transition between surfaces. So, begin your runs on gravel or on a cushion-y track to provide more comfort to the transition of being outdoors again.
- Limit Your Mileage-Indoors you may be able to run for miles…literally! However, when you get outdoors, limit the number of miles you run each time, but increase gradually every week. This will help your body get accustomed to the conditions of running in a new environment again, so you can get back to where you were last season! Don’t be afraid to slow down your pace for a little while when you get outdoors because now you will need to accommodate for more resistance (i.e. wind, hills, loose gravel). Watch out for muscle strains in the first few outings, but when you feel comfortable, go ahead and push yourself to the next level!
- Safety First-The last tip is to remember to be safe when running. When you run in your basement, chances are a family-member isn’t going to lose you like they could if you go running on a forest trail without a phone. Don’t forget to tell someone where you are going and approximately when you’ll be back just in case you don’t see the crack in the pavement and you roll an ankle. Another option is to find a running partner, that way you’re never alone! This can help push you to reach your goals and then you and your friends can hold each other accountable.