Spring brings about a whole slew of things worth smiling about. Bright-colored gear to wear again and vitamin D, for starters. You’re likely pretty stoked to get off the treadmill and outside — or, if you were already running outside, to ditch those jackets and gloves — and, of course, switch up your fitness routine. We’re happy to report that what’s likely been a long, chilly few months of indoor training and treadmill miles or freezing cold runs is over.
Runners beware: Diving head first into spring training can quickly lead to injury if you get too enthusiastic with the mileage. Here, experts weigh in on how to smartly take your training from indoors to outdoors:
GEAR UP SMART
Take the time to look at your sneakers, and make sure they’re ready for an increase in training miles. “The right sneakers are important for overall running mechanics,” says Matt Nolan, run coach and Barry’s Bootcamp instructor in New York City. “Fresh shoes also add that extra motivation to get outside.”
Nolan has a point: Research shows what we wear influences behavior and attitudes because it carries a symbolic meaning. In other words, snagging yourself a pair of shoes, like the UA HOVR Infinite, that makes you feel good can subconsciously change how you act.
GET A TUNE UP
Just like a bike or your car, your body needs regular maintenance to perform in tip-top fashion. “Make a physical therapist visit — almost like a running physical — to make sure there are no new injuries,” suggests Nolan. “You want to be aware of what’s going on with your body so you can be smart about heading outdoors and ramping up your mileage.”
GRAB THE SUNSCREEN
Just because it’s not prime summer season doesn’t mean you don’t need to load up on the SPF. Even on the cloudy days, sunscreen is just as essential for your run as the right pair of kicks or tights, to keep your skin safe and avoid sun damage. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying 30 minutes before heading outside and reapplying every two hours.
INCREASE MILEAGE GRADUALLY
The last thing you want is some sort of overuse injury because you got after it a little too quickly. Ease into training with a variety of different workouts, from slow, steady miles to interval training. Sprint routines — or high-intensity interval training — can be helpful in shedding some of that winter weight, too. Research shows it’s not only beneficial for fat loss, but is also an excellent cardio punch.
SIGN UP FOR A RACE
Sunnier days are the perfect opportunity to find some easy, shorter races to enjoy with friends and family as you ease back into a regular training routine. “This will help keep you accountable and get you back into the swing of race preparations,” says Nolan. “It will also help you sort out your fitness level and determine your baseline after a few months indoors.”