Hitting the Trails: Your Spring Running Program

With the snow finally disappearing, the sun shining, and the warmer temperatures, many of us are excited to take our workouts outdoors. A great outdoor workout that you likely are considering adding to your exercise program is running. Whether you’re new to running or have ran as part of an exercise routine in the past, it’s important to reintroduce this exercise by doing some upfront homework in order to successfully add this workout without putting your body at risk for injury.

Here are five action items to do before hitting the trails this spring:

1. Test Six Core Check Points.
Before you hit the ground running and try to return to the same mileage and pace you were at months ago, test six core check points:

  1. Muscle Strength
  2. Muscle Endurance
  3. Muscle Flexibility
  4. Shoes
  5. Plan of Progression
  6. Warm Up and Cool Down

This blog post goes into detail about each check point.

2. Get Feedback on Your Form.
While running may seem like something that is natural for us to do, “79% of runners will sustain a running-related injury during any given year” (JOSPT). The reason? Poor form. Studies show that runners who work with a physical therapist or running expert to critique and correct form are much less likely to get an injury. Meet with a physical therapist to complete an assessment of your running form so that you can hit those trails with confidence.

3. Write it Down.
Set goals for yourself. Write down what your main running goal is (i.e. running a 5K or completing your first marathon), and then break that down into small, incremental goals. Follow the 10% rule; increase your running mileage less than 10% each week to prevent injuries.

Then, as you begin your running program, track your progress by writing details down on a calendar or with a fitness watch. By documenting your progression, you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable and keep yourself motivated!

4. Invest in the Proper Gear.
Those cross trainers you use at the gym really shouldn’t be used for running. Work with an expert to get the right running shoe based on a gait analysis, your physical ability, and goals. (PS – River Valley Running provides onsite professional fitting!).

5. Ask Away.
Especially if you’re new to running, you may have dozens of questions going through your mind. From understanding how your body should feel after getting started to knowing what to include in your diet, get your questions answered from your physical therapist or running expert. Fitness Magazine answered some of the most common running questions here. Don’t be afraid to ask your questions! Starting your running program with confidence is key to following through on your goals and preventing injuries.

Once you’ve checked these action items off your to-do list, get out there and enjoy the trails with your family and friends!

Looking to get some running advice from a physical therapist? Contact us today to schedule an assessment.