If you haven’t ran outdoors yet this year chances are you will be doing so in the near future.  After a winter of being cooped up in the gym on an indoor track or confined to a treadmill it’s time to get outside and get some fresh air – unless you are one to brave the elements!   Perhaps you haven’t been as diligent over the winter keeping up with your running.

Here are some tips to make sure your transition back outside goes well.

Tip 1: Scale back your distance

If you have been running indoors all winter you have likely been on a rubberized track or on a treadmill.  By moving back outside you are likely to be running on a hard paved surface.  This can be a bit jarring to what your body is accustomed to so make a plan to transition effectively.  There is a slight risk of experiencing a minor injury such as shin splints or experiencing some soreness from changing surfaces.

Consider reducing your distance to 25% of what your regular indoor distance is for the first 1 – 2 weeks outside.  Over the course of 1 – 2 weeks you should be acclimated and ready to go.   Do not make your first run of the year outside your long run!

Tip 2: Evaluate Your Shoes

Spring is a good time to evaluate the condition of your running shoes.  If you haven’t bought a pair since last summer it is definitely time to replace them.  Even if you weren’t as active over the winter materials in a running shoe can break down from sitting idle as well as from use.   If you have been running over the winter the transition back outside will expose any worn shoes in the form of discomfort and soreness that could lead to injury.  New running season equals new shoes.  Start your training off right and before you start logging serious distance.

Tip 3: Consider Your Hydration

You may have a running route that you rely on public water fountains for hydration.  If you do make sure you carry your own fluids until you verify that they have been turned back on for the season.  There is nothing worse than arriving parched to a water fountain to find it dry.

Tip 4:  Be mindful of changing weather conditions

A run on a delightful spring afternoon could turn cold quickly as the sun goes down, especially early in the season.  Make sure you are prepared.  Likewise, a cool spring morning can warm rapidly so be sure to not overdress.  It can be challenging to decide what to wear this time of year so when in doubt, dress for about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is.  Once you are running you will warm up and be comfortable.

Tip 5:  Can You Be Seen at Night?

Even with daylight savings time an evening run might take you into darkness as the days are still not at maximum length.  Make sure you wear light colored or clothing that has reflective properties so you are visible to others.   There are many running hats, shirts and even shoes that have reflective strips within them that are functional, stylish and not making you look like you are directing traffic.  Get a Road ID if you don’t have one.

Tip 6: Consider Your Pace

Remember that your pace outdoors is likely to be slower than your pace indoors.  This is due to the fact that indoors there is no wind resistance, you are on a forgiving surface and if you have been running on a treadmill the machine has assisted you in moving your legs backwards.  Don’t be discouraged and don’t push yourself into a pace that you are not able to maintain comfortably simply because it has been your pace indoors.

Running outside is freeing and why so many love this sport.  Following these tips will set you on a course for a successful season!

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