Running Outdoors? A Few Things to Consider
Now that the weather in Toronto has improved considerably, you might be thinking about running outside instead of using the treadmill or the elliptical indoors. Rosedale and the surrounding area has some wonderful trails to run, but much of it is hilly and can cause some issues for the unprepared runner. Here's a few tips on avoiding problems when hitting the trails:
1) Watch your volume: in general, running outside is harder on the lower body than the treadmill. You may notice that running on pavement or gravel will produce more pounding on the feet, knees and hips. Running up and down hilly terrain is also quite hard on the shin and calf muscles. Like any exercise, the body will adapt over time, but start out slow. I actually recommend you don't do more than 5 minutes outside the first time. If you still want to do your regular longer run, do the first part inside on the treadmill, then go outside for the last 5 minutes. Trust me, your joints will thank you. Increase your load by a couple of minutes per run. Any faster risks injury!
2) Prepare for the circumstances: If you're going off-track, say into the ravines around Rosedale, make sure you know the trail. Uneven terrain, plus mud, plus coyotes create a different running experience than indoors or even side-walk pounding. Make sure you have grippy shoes, water and a cell phone in case you get in trouble. This may sound like over-kill, but it's easy to twist on ankle or hurt a knee on a root or while slipping in the mud. Running with a partner is also a great idea.
3) Have a good mobility and strength routine: Running injuries are quite frequent, and usually the result of insufficient joint mobility or a lack of strength in specific muscles. An immobile ankle and weak foot muscles are a common combination that can often lead to plantar fasciitis or Achilles heel inflammation. Similarly, an imbalance between various upper leg muscles can lead to knee problems, and weak hip muscles can cause back pain in runners. It is important to fix nagging issues quickly before they turn into chronic pain that is hard to correct. An assessment by a good trainer will provide the necessary information to design a good strength and mobility program to get ahead of injuries and keep you going strong!
If you want to start running outside and have questions, or are a current runner that needs a strength and mobility program, let me know! Many of my clients are runners of all ages and experience levels and it's my business to keep them moving. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text at 416-528-5463!