Spring showers don't have to mean no outside run
Running outdoors can be a joy of springtime — as long as you are prepared. Columnist Kelly Turner provides spring season running tips.
Special to the Seattle Times
In the Pacific Northwest, our springs bring teasers of sunshine that get runners itching to head outdoors, but often the unpredictable and not always pleasant weather has many running for cover instead.
While the fresh air and change of scenery can do wonders to boost your mood after the grays of winter, running outdoors is a more physically challenging way to run. Treadmills essentially catch you as you fall forward, but while running on the ground, the only thing propelling you forward is your muscles and your mental focus.
You also can pick your terrain, be it hills, trails or sand, to help better train for a race, improve your pace or simply explore different running routes.
And with a little preparation and planning, you'll be ready for a refreshing spring run no matter what the weather brings.
Plan ahead. Check the forecast before you hit the pavement and dress accordingly. Take extra layers and backup tops, pants and socks in case the weather takes a turn while you're out. And no matter what the weather calls for, always bring a bottle of water and a healthy snack for hydration and energy.
Lighten up. Trade your heavy winter wear for lighter layers, like windbreakers, hoodies and long-sleeved tees to keep you warm without weighing you down. You can always remove layers if you need to, but coming up short can leave you shivering. Consider choosing layers made of waterproof material to protect you from those April showers.
Don't forget the extras. Sunglasses will shield your eyes from stinging winds and sun at the same time, so have them handy. If you drive to your favorite running destination, bring a plastic bag in your car to put your wet and muddy gear into when you are finished. Be sure to let them dry in a well-ventilated area when you get home so they won't mold. Even if it seems cloudy, don't be fooled: The sun is in full force. Wearing sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 will protect you from UV rays, which cause the most damage during the middle of the day, about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a little tube of chapstick does wonders for wind-whipped lips.
Be aware of allergies. Spring-allergy sufferers are no strangers to the pains of pollen, but there are a few things you can do to not let them ruin a run. In addition to taking your allergy medication, be sure to warm up and cool down for about 5-10 minutes.
This will ease your lungs into your activity and prevent painful coughing. Pollen counts are always highest early in the morning, around 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., so plan on a lunchtime or afternoon run. Wraparound sunglasses can keep irritating pollen away from your eyes. Also be sure to change your clothes and shower right after a springtime run to remove as many allergens from your body as possible.
Where to start. If you don't know where to begin, search for running groups in your area. They typically begin to plan runs as the weather starts to warm up. If you prefer to go solo, break away from just your neighborhood. Search online for popular running routes for a great mix of runs with varying views, distances and difficulty.
Preparing for the elements will allow you to enjoy any run and explore your hometown, rain or shine.
Kelly Turner: email@example.com; Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified-personal trainer and fitness writer.