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Spring is in the air. Around here, we are in the midst of late-spring heat wave so it feels more like summer than spring, but I’ll rely on what the calendar is telling me.
Spring cleaning is the chance, after a long cold winter, to open the windows, let in some fresh air, and blow the stink off. Why not do that with your running as well as to your house?
For runners, I think spring is the best time to review goals, make changes, and set new resolutions. After a long winter of snow and rain, forcing many runners to either head indoors (good-bye dreadmill!) or creating less than ideal conditions for outdoors runs, the weather is finally turning nice.
And after the time change, more of us can run after work and still bask in daylight.
Ah, the bliss!
Spring Clean Your Running Routine
So what can you do to Spring clean you running?
Plan For Summer And Fall Races
Many of the big fall marathons are in October, meaning training for fall marathons for most people will begin in May or June.
The biggest races (the New York and Chicago Marathons, for example) now have lottery entry processes. If you are doing those races, you’ve had months to plan. But if you want to run in one of the hundreds of smaller half or full marathons held in the summer and fall, now is the perfect time to pick your target race and register.
Put it on the calendar and make it official. Picking a training plan is beyond the scope of this post, but whether you grab an off the shelf plan, work with the qualified coach to create a personalized plan, or create your own, now is the time to lay it out.
Choose a few intermediate tune-up races throughout the summer to both check-in with your training and to add a little excitement to the calendar.
Review Your Goals
What are your running goals?
If you don’t have any running goals, now is the time to set a few. Set a goal or two that will inspire you and keep moving through the summer.
If you already have goals, consider them anew. Are they still appropriate for where you are as a runner? Are you still inspired by those goals?
Don’t hold on to old goals forever just because they’ve always been your goal. If you are no longer inspired by your goals, change, modify, or tweak them so that they are again inspirational.
Throw out old goals if they no longer get you out the door to run.
Review And Adjust Paces
If you are a runner who follows a workout program that is pace-based, review the paces you are using. For example, the VDOT tables popularized by Jack Daniels (the running coach, not the whiskey guy) should be based on a recent race performance.
If you haven’t run a race recently, if you’ve been using the same VDOT number for years, or if you think you have gained or lost significant fitness over the winter, spring is a great time to run a target race to set (or confirm) your appropriate training paces.
(re)Commit To Post-Run Stretching
I know I should stretch post-run, but it is a known weakness of mine to skip the stretching (or to at least cut it short), especially during cold, rainy, winter runs.
And once I get out of the stretching habit, it’s all too easy to stay out of the habit.
I’m sure I’m not alone.
Warmer temperatures and nicer weather make for a much more pleasant post-run stretching experience.
Runners World magazine is just one source of information on possible post-run stretching routines. Pick a routine and commit (or recommit) to post-run stretching.
Review Your Wardrobe and Accessories
Are you ready for a heat wave?
Put away your long running pants and your black fleece jackets. Break out your shorts, tank tops, and the light long layers that will protect your skin from the summer sun (always protect your skin!).
Pull out you running hat (with neck protection) and buy a new tube of sweat-proof sunscreen. Don’t use the same tube of sunscreen that you used last year since it’s probably expired and past its useful life. And besides, if you have some left over, you probably aren’t using enough.
Don’t have any of the above? Perfect chance to go shopping!
Cross Training Options
Not all runners add cross training into their training. Personally, I love cross training, it gives my mind and body a break from running while still being active.
Spring is the perfect time to revive summer cross training options (get your bike tuned up and ready to go), and to try a few new options (stand-up paddleboarding anyone?).
Explore your options and commit to trying something new this summer!