The long, cold winter is fading behind us and spring is finally here. That means it's time to get some consistent miles in and start training for spring and summer races.
Whether you're running for the first time or training for a big race, you need to start with the basics, especially if you took a bit of a break in the winter. Here are 10 tips to help you get through your spring training so you're ready to hit race season full stride.
1. Find a Local Running Club
Running with a club is a great way to make sure you're running consistently. Most clubs are free to join, and the crews can be tremendously supportive. There are crews all over the city to choose from. My suggestions? Check out Nike Running Club Chicago, Crew Runs the World and Three Run Two.
2. Know the Weather Before You Leave the House
Always check the weather before a run, but especially in the spring. Dressing appropriately makes for a much more enjoyable run.
3. Eat Before You Run
Eat something about 30 minutes before running. A handful of almonds, a few pieces of fruit or my favorite -- three slices of a Granny Smith apple with almond butter on top. And remember, drink water and eat foods that are easy to digest.
4. Invest in Good Running Shoes
Nothing makes a run more agonizing than wearing the wrong shoes. It's worth it to find the perfect shoe for your stride. If not, you're on the road to a possible injury that could easily have been avoided. If you're not sure where to start, visit your local Fleet Feet Sports or Nike store.
5. Music is Your Cheerleader
Music can help you get through any run, especially the long ones. I create playlists with my favorite pump-up songs to keep me going. Some of my favorites include "Hideaway" by Kiesza, "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj.
6. Buy Something to Hold Your Music Device
Holding a phone or iPod while running is annoying and restrictive. Your hands should be able to move around to prevent them from stiffening. Buy an armband or a waist pouch to keep your device out of the way.
7. Don't Be So Hard on Yourself
We all have good and bad running days. Stay positive and know that if you keep it up, you'll improve. Bad days are not off limits to anyone, even marathon champions.
8. Run to Explore
If nothing else inspires you, then look at running as a way to explore Chicago's many neighborhoods. Chicago and the surrounding area has some of the most amazing places to run, including the the lakeshore path, Pilsen and the streets of Evanston.
9. Wear Comfortable Tights
It's not quite warm enough for shorts just yet, so you'll need a comfortable pair of running tights. The pair I'm currently in love with are Nike's Epic Lux tights. They are extremely lightweight, smooth and breathable, and they stay in place throughout my run.
10. Track Your Miles
Always keep tabs on your miles. I use the Nike Plus application to keep up with my miles and my pace, and I also use it to share my run times and challenge friends. It's a good way to track your progress and also make running less of a solo sport.