Summer is finally here with its beautiful sunshine, and now that the weather has warmed up, many runners are taking their workouts outside to trails and parks. While running can be quite enjoyable, it is essential to remember that running can also be a dangerous sport. You wouldn’t want to ruin your streak with an unexpected injury. Read on to learn tips and tricks to help you run safely.
As you take to your favorite running spot, a 3-mile run can quickly become 10 or more miles if you get in the zone or get lost. It is important that you always take water with you no matter how short your run is going to be. If you decide to run in the heat of the day, it is especially critical to take water with you. On average, you lose 8 oz of fluid every 20 minutes that you run. During the day, make sure that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and drink water every 20 to 30 minutes during your run. Every day you should drink at least ½ to 1 ounce for every pound that you weigh. The more active you are, the more that you should drink. As you run, it’s also a good idea to try and run in the shade whenever possible.
Slowly Build Endurance
Many running injuries are caused by increasing your mileage too much too soon. Don’t let yourself become overzealous and try to push yourself too hard, or you may end up with painful injuries such as shin splints. If you used to run often, don’t try to pick up where you left off, as frustrating as that will be, as your safety is more important than your pride. Pay close attention to the signs that your body gives you, as pain is an indicator that something is wrong. Create a workout plan for yourself to slowly increase your mileage to reach your goals. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 10% rule — only increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week.
Listen To Your Body
As stated above, pain is an indicator that something is wrong. Do not ignore your body! There is no shame in stopping if something is wrong. If you are injured, it may be best to take a break for a few days or a few weeks while you recover. If you still want to exercise, try something that is low-impact such as swimming.
Warm-Up and Stretch
It is imperative to warm up your muscles before you begin your workout and do a long, thorough stretch after. Focus on the major muscle groups that you use when running, such as your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, abs, calves, etc.
Wear The Right Shoes
Running in old, worn shoes or the wrong shoes for your body can quickly cause injury. Make sure that you find a shoe that has the proper support for you and your unique needs. Don’t buy a shoe because it looks nice or is the cheapest one in the store. Feel free to ask the staff at any store you visit to help you find the right pair.
Use Safety Gear
If you run in the early morning hours or late or night, make sure that you wear safety gear so that you can be seen by oncoming traffic and other runners. You can purchase a reflective vest and a headlamp for fairly cheap online. If you are afraid of attackers, you can always carry runners mace to protect you in case you are assaulted.
Let Someone Know Where You Are
During the day, we have a tendency to feel like nothing can touch us — but attacks and injuries can happen at any time. Let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you will be back, just to be safe. While you are out, try to stay in heavily trafficked areas, and it may be a wise idea to run with a buddy (if you don’t have a friend, a dog will work as well).
Plan For a Rest Day
It is crucial to rest once a week to give your body time to repair. You will also need to vary your workouts from hard, long, intense runs and “easy” days where you run fewer miles at a gentle pace to prevent injury.