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Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Running Ready (After the Worst Winter Ever)
Did you hear that sound? The sound of winter finally beginning to thaw? Ladies, March has arrived! Pretty soon, the only opaque tights you'll need to wear outside will be your running tights. Boom. If you're a little nervous about making the switch from the treadmill days of winter to the open air, running path perfection of spring, fear not—just check out our how-to.
First up, tell the treadmill, "It's not you, it's me," with these pointers for transitioning to the pavement...
Treadmill running and outdoor running are similar but not identical, says Janet Hamilton, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and exercise physiologist at Running Strong in Atlanta. "Most people feel like they're working harder while running outside at the same pace as they do the treadmill," she says. But you really shouldn't be trying to keep up your treadmill pace outdoors, says Hamilton. Instead, tune in to how hard you're breathing, how tired your legs are, and your level of exertion. Then, match that with how you normally feel on the treadmill. "It might take a couple of weeks to work up to the same pace, but it will get there," says Hamilton.
When you run on the road, you have to propel yourself forward. On the other hand, when you run on a treadmill, you just have to keep up with the track under you, says Hamilton. "I'm not a big fan of putting the incline on two percent and leaving it there because it's not the same as running outside," she says. However, if you do intervals of sprints or inclines on the treadmill before you transition to your outdoor runs, you'll improve your outside endurance and make those real-deal hills alittleeasier.
Before you start an outside run, Hamilton says it's so important to do a quick walking, skipping, or backwards run as a warm-up. Warm-ups are vital when you're running outside in early spring, she says. Temps aren’t exactly balmy, and "you're less likely to pull or strain a muscle if your tendons and muscles are warm because they're more elastic."
And, of course, don't overdo it. "The beauty of running outdoors is that it's great stimulation for your brain," says Hamilton. But "if you want to run longer, remember that just because you're not bored, you're not super human." She says to listen closely to your body for any aches or pains. If something feels off, it’s time to cut your run short.
Chances are, there's probably no smoothie bar or water fountain on your outdoor route. If you're going on a 20- or 30-minute run, you likely don't need to bring much fuel with you, says Wendy Bazilian, R.D., an American College of Sports Medicine-certified health and fitness specialist. If you're on the road for 60 minutes or longer, you'll definitely want to bring a water and carbohydrate-based snack, like the ones listed above. They're great because your body can digest them quickly to help you run more efficiently and recover faster, says Bazilian.
RELATED: Q&A: What's The Best Way to Transition From The Treadmill to Outdoor Running?
You might sweat more than usual as the weather warms up, which means you need to get your hydration on more than usual, too. Sick of boring ol' water? We've got more exciting options for you.
Layering is the name of the spring running gear game. We're here to help you pick the best layers.
As we all know, spring is alittleunstable temperature-wise. Solution: You can literally pack this vest into its back pocket when you get too warm and wear it via a hand strap while you run.
Nike Aeroloft 800 vest, 0, nike.com
1. Protect your eyes from the spring sun. 2. Up your style quota by like a bajillion.
Lorna Jane Chromatic Cap, .99, lornajane.com
If spring came in pants form, well…
Nike ForeverRun tights, 0, nike.com
A running tank that has as pleasant a message as sunshine, flowers, and rainbows? Yes, please.
Under Armour Women's UA Run On Good Vibes Tank, .99, underarmour.com
Light, smooth runs, here you come, whether you're heading for the road (check out the Bondi 4!) or the trails (the Challenger ATR!).
Hoka One One Women's Bondi 4, 0, ;Hoka One One Challenger ATR, 0,
Let's talk about cuteness and effectiveness in one: These guys keep your hair in place and are reflective in case you're out before or after the sun.
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