Regular exercise is a healthy habit to have, and road running can be a beneficial part of your fitness routine. When running, some considerations apply no matter if you’re on a road (or sidewalk) or a trail,track or treadmill. However, there are a couple of health and safety considerations that apply specifically to road running.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most important things you may want to ponder before your start a road-running routine:
1. The Right Shoes Make a Difference
Although you don’t have to spend tons of money on running shoes, you do need to get a good quality pair that can go the distance. Experts recommend replacing your running shoes after 400 to 500 miles, so, depending on how much you run, you may find yourself replacing your shoes within less than a year.
Wearing the wrong type and size of shoes can lead to unnecessary injuries or inconvenient problems like flat feet — especially when you’re running on a hard, unforgiving surface like concrete or asphalt. Because everyone’s foot is different, it may be worth your while to go to a store that provides shoe fittings specifically for runners.
2. Don’t Skip Your Warm-Up
If you think a warm-up is a waste of time before running, you might want to think again. Not warming up properly can cause unpleasant consequences, such as tight muscles or a stitch in your side.
You can incorporate the warm-up into your exercise routine. Instead of hitting the ground running first thing, walk briskly or jog slowly for the first five minutes to get your blood flowing and muscles warmed up. Or you can do some stretches and knee lifts before you get started.
3. Don’t Ignore the Pain
When you feel pain, your body is trying to tell you something important. If you choose to push past the pain and keep going, you may end up with a worse injury. You may even need to visit your health professional to find out exactly what type of care your injury needs to help it heal faster.
Remember, sometimes it’s necessary to stop running immediately and even take some time off before getting back into your routine. Resting your injury can help it heal much faster than continuing to run with it and risking it worsening.
5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
You should be hydrated before you start running, so consider drinking 6-to 8-ounces of water upon waking if you’re a morning runner. If you run later in the day, make sure you drink throughout the day, so you don’t start your run dehydrated.
Also, take your water bottle along for hydration during your run. Hydrating while running is especially important when your run is more than 30 minutes and in weather conditions with higher temperatures. If your mouth feels dry at any time, that’s your body telling you that you definitely need to hydrate.
5. Eating Before Running Can be a Good Thing
Although hydration is a necessity when running, eating is optional. If your run is less than an hour, forgoing eating may work for you. Eating before running, however, can help give you the energy you need for stamina during the run.
A breakfast containing complex carbs and proteins — whole wheat toast with peanut butter — or an energy bar and a piece of fruit can give you the pre-workout fuel you’ll need. If you’re afraid your stomach will bother you if you eat before, try eating about an hour-and-a-half before you actually start to exercise.
Other options exist, too, if you just can’t stomach eating. For example, you can purchase some energy gel and take it during your run to help you keep going.
6. Be Mindful of Your Safety
Road running can expose you to all kinds of hazards, including careless drivers. It’s important to plan out your running route in advance so that you know where you’ll have to cross intersections or run in areas with heavy traffic. Although no one likes to think about it, accidents between runners and motorists can and do happen.
Plus, even if you believe you’re not at fault, it might be difficult to prove. According to Mark Rees personal injury lawyer, “With a personal injury claim, sometimes the defense may argue that the injured person was partially to blame for the accident.” Bottom line: Avoid dangerous areas and always be aware of your surroundings.
7. Be Open to Changing Up Your Routine
Unless you’re a person that thrives on doing the same thing over and over, be open to changing up your running routine periodically. Not only will it give you some variety in your life, but it will also make your runs more challenging. Look for ways to increase elevation and distance.