Oh boy! Spring is right around the corner. According to my phone, 40 degree weather is creeping in tomorrow and it looks like it’s going to stick around for more than a day. Pretty exciting right?
What’s more exciting is that it’ll be easier to run outdoors again! I’m an outdoor runner through and through so I managed to brave most of the cold, snowy temperatures this year. But running in spring, at least for those first few weeks of warmth is always tough.
How do you dress for spring as a runner?
First things first, you dress for spring with a smile. Not all of us have run outside during the winter and some of us might not even have run at all this winter. No judgment here, but there are vastly different ways to approach running in spring depending on your winter training regime.
Let’s start with someone who hasn’t run outside or hasn’t run over the winter very much.
Dress warmer than you think.
Now, if you haven’t spent that much time outdoors in the winter, 40 degrees will not feel like the tropical weather it would feel like to someone who has just been running in ten degrees. Someone who hasn’t run often or hasn’t gone outside very much simply is not acclimated to any degree of cold.
It’s hard to head out, even in warmer weather, if you haven’t been out at all because it will feel extremely cold. Some ways you can help yourself out is to run with pockets or run laps that include your house/a station you can drop clothes off at like your car. That way you can bring an extra jacket, gloves, warmer socks, etc to pick up or take off as you.
Lower your mileage.
Especially for the first few weeks of running outside again, lower your mileage. Asphalt is hard. Trails require a lot of different, less exercised muscles. There’s a lot of factors that we might not consider, like the wind, that will challenge our bodies and our brain. So set your expectations a touch lower and build up to outdoor mileage.
Check out your shoes.
If you haven’t run since fall or have been using indoor training shoes, take inventory. How many miles are on your shoes? How is the tread? How do they feel? That first run outside should be shorter in part so you can get a good feel of what’s going on under your feet.
It’s extremely easy to mess your season up because of shoes. Take the time to evaluate if your shoes need replacing. Take the time to evaluate all of your gear! Spring is a great time to start thinking about clearing out old, worn equipment and gear and replacing it with newer stuff.
Do not run in the rain.
Not unless you’re acclimated.
I love running in the rain. But I won’t head out to run through a thunderstorm or heavy downpour in the first weeks of spring even though I run through heavy snow and ice. Why? My body isn’t used to mud or regulating my temperature in the rain.
To me, this is one of those “work up to it” kind of deals. Temperature, wind, gear, and how well acclimated you are all play into it but I’d say start in a drizzle and leave the downpours for a little later.
All right, now how about some advice for those of us who have run through the winter?
Watch your mileage.
I won’t say to lower your mileage. But I will say to watch it. Something I am very guilty of is getting so excited that the weather is warmer and the pavement is clear that I forget that I still have a baseline mileage I have to respect. Sure, I can go running forever…except that my body isn’t ready for that. At all.
We’ve built up a certain normal over the winter. Just because it’s nicer out doesn’t mean we can ramp up our mileage like crazy. Doing it slowly as spring enters is the safest way for our bodies. Remember, we can only increase our mileage so much for it to still be safe.
Watch your pace.
Now that the pavements are clear of snow and ice, it’s easier to go faster. But be careful. Going faster all of a sudden can be really rough on the body. It’s just like with the mileage, take it a little easier for a few weeks. Acclimate yourself to the new scene slowly.
As hard as it is to take easier and slower at first, it gives you the chance to avoid injury. Remember, it’s not hot out yet. I know getting out there and taking it more slowly just makes you itchy to go farther, longer, faster. But take in the scenes. Enjoy the world waking up around you. This morning I ran and I got to listen to birds again. How about that?
Don’t overheat. This is where, like with those who have not run outside, you should plan a route around a station where you can drop off gear if you get too hot. If you’re used to 10 degrees, then 45 is going to be a sauna. To avoid overheating, run around a place where you can peel off layers if need be.
Dressing for spring is tough. Headbands instead of hats, headbands instead of baseball caps. Light gloves that’ll fit in a pocket. Light jackets or no jackets. And remember, now that it’s warmer you can safely embrace that sweat.
The most important part for anyone, whether you’ve run all winter or never run a step before in your life, is to listen to your body and have fun. This is something you are choosing to do, after all. You might as well choose to enjoy it too! Especially since it can take you wonderful places.