Now that Daylight Saving Time has started, you may find yourself doing more of your runs outside. But even if you're running in daylight, you still need to take precautions.
Using your common sense and taking some safety measures when running can help you avoid getting injured or becoming a victim. Follow these steps to stay safe on the run.
It's common for runners to experience some aches and pains, especially if you're training for a long-distance event, like a half or full marathon. But when is it OK to run through pain?
After a hard workout or a long run, you're most likely going to feel some overall muscle soreness. But when you feel pain in one specific spot, it could be a sign that something's wrong. Here are the different types of pain, with advice on what to do:
Mild Pain: You feel this type of pain when you start to exercise but it usually goes away as you warm up and continue running. The pain may be inconsistent and moves around the body, or you feel it on both sides of your body. On a pain scale of 10, it ranges from 1 to 3. Mild pain or discomfort is common and considered safe to run through.
Moderate pain: You feel this type of pain as you start running, but stays at a tolerable intensity throughout your run. On a pain scale of 10, it ranges from 4 to 6. It rarely passes your pain threshold and it doesn't cause you to limp or alter your running stride. For the most part, it's safe to continue running when you experience a moderate level of pain. However, you may want to take a few days off from running and apply R.I.C.E treatment, giving your body a chance to heal. You can cross train, as long as it's pain-free.
Severe Pain: Ranging from 7 to 10 on the pain scale, this pain is severe in nature and you can feel it before, during and after exercise. The pain increases as you continue running and will typically cause you to limp. You should never continue running when you feel this type of pain. Consult your doctor and follow his or her recommendations.
The bottom line is that runners should listen to their bodies and use common sense when dealing with pain. If you're really unsure about whether you should be running, play it safe and give yourself a couple days of rest - you won't lose much fitness at all.
Did you find that the winter holidays, limited daylight, and cold weather wreaked havoc on your running schedule this winter? Don't beat yourself up -- many runners, especially those in cold climates, cut back on running during the winter months. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you head outside to take advantage of the nicer weather and ease back into running:
Make slow increases. If you haven't run consistently all winter, start your spring training with short, easy runs -- no more than 3 or 4 miles at a time. Don't run two days in a row. One of the easiest ways to get injured is to increase your mileage too soon, before you've established a good running base. Don't bump up your mileage by more than 10 percent per week. If you have the desire and time to train more, do low-impact cross-training, such as the bike or elliptical, to build your fitness.
Watch your intensity. Be patient with your running -- it could take as long as 4-6 weeks to re-build your running base. Don't introduce hill running or speed training until you have a solid base. And make sure you give yourself enough recovery time in between hard workouts.
Look ahead, don't look back. If you took some time off from running, you may be frustrated thinking about your previous fitness level. Don't put pressure on yourself to get back into shape quickly. You'll have plenty of time to train and improve your fitness for summer and fall races. Just enjoy running as you work on building up your fitness level gradually and safely.
Some days I run for the stress relief, while other days it's purely for the calorie burn. But most days, it's because I love that combination of freedom, strength, and joy I feel while running. There are always those days when getting through a run is pure drudgery, but I know one of those awesome runs are just around the corner.
Why do YOU run? Here's what some running.about.com readers have to say:
"Why do I run? Life sucks sometimes. Running is my way to escape it. At the end of a day, I can take all the pain, all the hurt, all of the frustration I've collected over the day and forge something greater than myself. Running is my way of showing I'm not going to stay down, and instead I will rise." - Trevor
"I like everything about running. The feeling of accomplishment, the positive mental benefits, and the way my body feels afterwards. I can eat what I want and No gym membership required. Achieving longer distances and better times makes me feel good about myself. The days of preparation before and the electricity in the air before a race are addictive. Running fills such a part of me that I am much less demanding of others." - James
"Running makes me feel strong. It clears my head. It helps me tackle other challenges in my life. It keeps me in shape. It makes me feel I've achieved something, when I start the day with a run. You run. You win." - Claire
Share your reasons why you run here.
If you're running to lose weight, you may be sabotaging your efforts by consuming way more calories than you need It's easy to not realize how many calories you're actually consuming throughout the day, but keeping track of your foods and drinks will make you more aware of everything that you put in your mouth. You'll think twice about grabbing some cookies in the breakroom at work, or finishing your kid's dessert after dinner. Some runners like to track their foods along with their workouts in a training journal. Using a site like FitDay is a fun way to keep track online.
When you're a new runner, it's helpful to have someone you can turn to ask questions and seek advice. You don't necessarily have to run together, but you can talk to each other about running (since non-runners in your life might be sick of hearing about it) and help keep each other motivated.
If you're looking for some running buddies, here's some advice:
Running usually puts me in a good mood, but there are definitely times when I'm stressed out or just not having a good run and I need something to elevate my mood. Here are a few tricks to try.
Run outside. Research does show that even small doses of outdoor exercise can have a profound effect on mental health. In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, researchers at the University of Essex found that moving outdoors for even just five minutes improved both mood and self-esteem.
Smile. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're smiling. Smiling activates your endorphins. And you'll generate good vibes among people that you pass.
Repeat a mantra. Keep saying a positive phrase such as, "I feel good" or "I'm feeling better". You'll eventually start to believe it.
As some parts of the U.S. continue to get pounded with snow and freezing temperatures, many runners are finding themselves still on the treadmill. If you're suffering from some serious treadmill fatigue, here are some ways you can spice up your treadmill miles. And please share your own boredom-busting secrets in the comments.
Many beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don't have the endurance or fitness to run for extended periods of time. And some experienced runners also use walk breaks as a strategy to prevent injuries and improve their overall pace. If you're taking walk breaks during your runs, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don't wait too long to start your walk interval. Start your walk portion before your running muscles get too tired. This will allow your muscles to recover instantly, which extends the time and distance that you can cover. If you wait until you're very fatigued, you'll end up walking slowly and it will be harder to transition back to running.
Maintain good form. When walking, don't lose your good running form. Make sure you keep your arms at a 90 degree angle - don't drop them to your side and walk casually. Keep your stride short, so you're not putting stress on your hamstrings and your shin muscles.
Walk briskly. Don't be tempted to take it easy and slow down too much during your walk breaks. You want to keep your heart rate elevated.
Adjust your walk schedule, as necessary. You may need to alter your walk break frequency to adjust for breaks in your training, course conditions, and weather conditions. While it's good to have a walk break schedule, you may sometimes need to go "off schedule" and take more frequent walk breaks.
When it's cold or dark outside, or you're too tired to go to the gym, it's easy to talk yourself out of running. Reader Alice has found herself in that situation, but she's been trying a new strategy with a lot of success.
"There are times when I'm just too lazy, tired or just simply can't be bothered, but I'm learning to say 'Right! Get up and get changed, you're going running!' because I know that I love it so much when I actually get out there," she writes. "For the past month or two, I've been really getting into it. I'm fitting in, on average, 4 runs per week, or 5 on a good week."
Way to go, Alice! Her experience is a great example of how a little positive self-talk can improve your running motivation. Here are a few more ideas to help beat your excuses:
- Set up "running dates" with friends. It's a lot harder to blow off a run if you know someone else is counting on you.
- Sign up for a race. There's nothing like a deadline to inspire running motivation.
- Lay out your clothes. If you're trying to run in the morning, get your running clothes out the night before, so you don't even have time to procrastinate when you wake up.