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6 Tips to Return to Running After A Long Winter

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Running isn’t something that you typically hear me chat about endlessly, but the truth of the matter is I truly enjoy running.  It helps me focus and clears my head from the typical daily riff raff and clutter.  You really don’t have to engage in any other thought processes other than right foot, left foot, breathe.  It doesn’t have to get any more complicated than that; however, just because the snow is rapidly vacating the premises doesn’t mean you can jump right back on that horse and start pounding the pavement with abandon.  And trust me, just because you ran on the treadmill while the snow was dominating the landscape outside doesn’t mean you’re ready for running outdoors. 

You Have To Be Fit To Run

Now, I know, I know—everyone (supposedly) has told you that if you’re going to lose fat you’ve got to run.  Well, they’re not wrong necessarily, save for the fact that if you don’t have some core and leg strength along with some descent hip, knee and ankle mobility, you’re just asking for injury.

You have at least a base level of physical strength and fortitude to even contemplate running for any length of time, especially if you’re overweight or out of shape.

Many people start their training ventures in running and there’s nothing wrong with that providing they go slow and at their own pace.

The problem lies in the fact that most people just think they can get up and go for a 5K run and be fine the next day.  They get up, tie on their favorite pair of sneakers that are worn down to the heel and splitting out of the toes, strap on those headphones and rock on, right?

The next day after they’ve completed a supposedly easy 5K they’re in agony.  They can’t run, walk, squat to go to the bathroom and they’ve got aches and pains everywhere.  Sound familiar?

Building Up To Running

Of course, this above scenario is true.  So many people start off on the wrong foot literally, when they begin a running program without any sort of preparation phase or build up phase and this is a terrible mistake.

In order to build your body up to start running, regardless of your age, body composition or level of fitness training (as even regular gym goers may suffer the same consequences) one needs to fully prepare for the onslaught of high impact aerobics.

You can do this with a couple easy exercises in the morning to help prepare for your run and then tackle the run in short bursts of activity intermixed with walking.

The Steps

  1.  Start off your morning with some DYNAMIC STRETCHES, not static stretches as these don’t warm the body up before running.  Here are some examples here.  You can stretch statically after you’re done.
  2. Foam roll all the major muscles groups, like the quads, hamstrings, IT bands (especially the IT bands), lower back and calves to get rid of any knots. Check out how to foam roll some of the bigger muscle groups here.
  3. Perform a nice callisthenic warmup.  You can do body weight squats, lunges, mountain climbers, jump rope, pushups, bridges and planks as to start.  These exercises will engage your main muscle groups, stimulate core activation and help you start sweating right off the bat.
  4. Start your run slow and build up in intensity.  Depending upon your level of conditioning start off with running steady until you have to walk.  It could be a minute, it could be 5 minutes.  Doesn’t really matter, just go for as long as you can and then take a break.  Walk it out for a minute and then continue.  (Keep in mind there are many variations to running and running better, but you can modify this guidance after you’re up and running for a month or so).
  5. I don’t recommend running over an hour very often as this tends to do more to break you down than improve your speed.  I like running, but I’m not a marathoner.  If you are, then you’ve got to run more for distance and I’m sorry.
  6. Don’t run long distance over 3 days a week, unless you’re adding in short sprints.  You’ll only end up with diminishing returns and injuries that will take you out of the action.  If you’re really into getting in great shape then try resistance training on the rest of your days focusing on the legs, core and lower back.  These will only increase your strength and make your running performances increase beyond normal.  More strength equals better running.

So there are the six tips to getting back into running the right way.  Apparently this winter is not going to last forever, although it remains to be seen at this point.  Start preparing for those nice long morning runs now and lose the extra soreness that stops you in your tracks for the remainder of the week.

Will you be ready to start your running routine?  Take my advice and you will dominate your run in no time.


Jess Howland
Jess Howland
Jess Howland is a Veteran US Army Captain serving as Master of Youth Awesomeness and Strength Coach for Hostyle Conditioning in Orleans, ON. Jess holds a BS degree in Exercise Science from Oregon State University, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), among other training and nutritional certifications. A simple country boy turned lifetime fitness enthusiast and passionate trainer, who inspires everyone he meets to be involved in fitness, strength training and optimal nutrition in support of his personal motto Be Strong, Be Fast, and Be Resilient. Known for his high intensity, hybrid programs and never ending pursuit of fitness endeavors his former colleagues call him by his nickname CAPTAIN SMASH (CPT SMASH) or just SMASH. Jess coaches a wide variety of people as he believes in Hostyle Conditioning’s mission of transforming the ordinary lives of men and women into leading extraordinary lives that are improved through a blend of hybrid strength training and dynamic cardio conditioning. Jess has established himself as a lead trainer in Youth Strength and Conditioning, as well as specialty programming for special populations as military, police/firefighter, nurses and strength sport competitors. As a professional coach, Jess loves what he does to provide purpose, direction and motivation to those who feel that they need help in getting to from A (current fitness level) to B (goal fitness level).

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  1. I’m training for the 10k in May, and I never heard of Dynamic streches before! I will definitely add them to my routine. Thanks 🙂

  2. Lots of great tips there. My daughter inspired my last fall with her determination (and success!) of trying cross country running for the first time at school. This summer I plan to run with her and introduce her little sister to running as she is old enough to join the school team this fall.

  3. Dear Catebrazil, Brenda, and Darlene:

    No problem. Glad to introduce something new into your routine for you.

    I’m glad you’re trying to push yourself with a little bit of younger enthusiasm. Chasing the kids is always a great way to excel. After all we all need a little extra push.

    And lastly, yes, stretching is important, but more and more exercise science is demonstrating how static stretching is less important before activity and warming up with full range movements is key in increasing overall core temperature and preventing injury.



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