By Julie Messinger
DHAC Exercise Physiologist
Winter has come to an end and Spring and warm weather are finally here! Many people switch to running outside when the warm weather comes. It can be a hard transition when you are used to running indoors on a treadmill.
When running outside, your body is moving over changing terrain. The slant and incline of the ground is constantly changing. The surface you are running over may also change. You might go from concrete to gravel or grass to asphalt. The treadmill is a soft and even surface so it is a lot different then running on the pavement.
When you are running on the treadmill, you lack proprioception. You lack what? Proprioception. It is intuitively feeling and knowing the position and motion of your body, feet, legs and arms at all times. When you run outside, you are more aware of what your body is doing.
When first starting to run outside, you might want to chose the flattest route that you can find. It is better to run up hills than to run down hills initially. Running uphill will actually prevent more injuries then going downhill. Running uphill will also help tone up your hamstrings and gluts and improve speed.
Before you start your run, it is important to incorporate a warm up. The duration of the warm up depends on how long and intense your run is. Generally speaking, the duration of a warm up should be long enough for you to feel your breathing rate and heart rate increase and that you’re starting to perspire. As an alternative to just jogging as your warm up, you can incorporate a dynamic warm up such as high knees, skips, butt kicks etc.
You should also initially decrease your time and distance about 50%. Once you get used to running outside at this time and distance, then increase your time and or distance by 10%. If you are feeling any pain, then you are doing too much. Decrease your mileage and intensity. Don’t forget to do a cool down. A cool down should include a light jog or walk to lower your heart rate. You should also remember to stretch at the end of your run to relieve all the tension you just put on your muscles to avoid injury.
Start out slow and don’t start out with too much mileage. It is better to start at a low comfortable mileage than to overdo it. If you do too much, you will end up getting hurt. No one wants to be sidelined.
Have fun and enjoy the nice weather!