SPRING, summer and FALL are the seasons made for running and outdoor training in general. As such we’re all coming up on our busiest running months of the year. Yeah!!! At least hopefully we are! It’s a good idea no matter what your plans are to prepare in advance both so that you will be ready and so that you can shop around and maybe save a buck or two. Some of these things will also add to your motivation to get going and out the door, which is always appreciated. So here are the top 10 things every runner should do every spring!
Buy new shoes
Most runners, even the most casual ones will need a new pair of shoes each year. Plus what runner doesn’t love getting new shoes? New models are just coming out for the year if you’re into the latest model. But… if you’re a budget shopper last year’s models have just been reduced and more sizes are still in stock. You might get really lucky and get the model from two years ago on clearance! If you need to wait for a sale then now is the time to be stocking the store or the websites and getting ready to pounce since you have some time. If you need a specific model and size of sneaker and only that will do, then stocks are higher than they will be all year so your chances are the best in the spring.
Personally I’ll buy shoes before I need to start wearing them, sometimes a long time before. I find it motivating to have new shoes I’m not allowed to take out of the box yet until I run more on the last ones. Actually the ones I bought for 2020 are still sitting unused so I can skip this step this year! And I was just gifted a super cool cold weather running top that matches them perfectly! Buying sneakers in advance means I never have to pay full price!
Dig out and purge your warm weather kit
Here’s my feeling about this you should be excited to wear your running kit. So anything that is stretched out, pilled, stained, ill fitting or feeling past it’s prime can be moved on. You can donate it, sell it or even rework it if you want. This time of year I’ll often take out my sewing machine and take in things that have stretched out just a bit or fit me poorly last year. Stuff that doesn’t work for you anymore for whatever reason doesn’t really deserve space in your house or on your runs anymore does it?
Decide what won’t make it until winter
Rather than just thinking about what needs to go now take stock of all your everyday running things like belts, vests, watches, bottles, head phones and think longer term than just right now. So much of the stuff we have on every run needs to work perfectly or it doesn’t work at all. We all know that the replacement item might not be as good as the OG. Why can’t companies just keep making the stuff we love forever and ever? Think about the milage you’ll be running this year and decide what will make it to winter and what probably won’t. It’s better to work in new items while the the old one has some life in it just in case it doesn’t work for you.
Once you’ve taken stock of all the things that could be replaced (or you just want to) it’s time to get to shopping. I always seem to need a few new sports bras, water bottles and tank tops heading into running season. Sure it’s great to be able to walk into the sporting goods store pretty woman style and say “I’ll take this and that and three of those” not everyone can do that. It might be finances, a hard to fit frame, a time issue or any number of other challenges. I like to buy a lot of my clothes at least second hand because it’s cheaper and if for any reason what so ever I don’t love it it can go right back into the donation bin. Starting early also means you can do lots of research online and make better choices in the end.
Pick a cornerstone race and set goals
I’ve written in detail about planning a race season in regular years so this is the abridged version here. Most years that should start with that one big goal. It could be a 5k all the way to an ultra or traveling for a dream race. You want to make sure you’re prepared for that big challenge on the day but also that you don’t over train or over race getting there. If (like this year) a big race isn’t on the table then set goals to get faster, go further, run more or stay injury free.
Plan your race season
Once you pick your big goal for the year it gets way easier to decide what the rest of your season looks like. This can include doing shorter races early in training, perhaps a larger side race around the halfway point and add on races after the big day. You want to set up the races you do outside the big one walking a delicate line. On one hand those other races are something to look forward to and break up the monotony of training but not push too hard and take away from that main goal. Taking some time to plan the rest of your season out is an incredibly useful step to having the best season possible.
Find a great plan
If your are planning on hitting a certain goal this year it probably isn’t just going to happen by accident. You’ll need to work a plan to maximize your chances of success. There are so many out there that picking the right plan for you can take some time. You could pick one that is speed focused, time centered, is made for first timers or just gets you to do the bare minimum. Whatever you’re looking for I promise it does exist out there! The plans that I write are made to be realistic and fit into your busy life while giving you the confidence to know you’ll get over the line on race day. I would like to think that all the information you need to support your goals is included in the plan. They are a lot more than just a table and included the rational for each workout, what kit you’ll need, tips, tricks and a lot more. Each plan is about 20 pages and the actual schedule is only about three of those pages! You can find out more about my plans or even get one here!
Register for races
This year in person events are filling up in the blink of an eye so there is that. Even in regular years though you could still miss out if you don’t register early. Even if your event is full you have a much better chance of getting in if you add yourself to the waitlist early! Registering early often saves you a couple of bucks and who doesn’t love that? It’s actually really nice to race directors to sign up and pay earlier rather than later. It helps them know how popular their event will be, it puts some of the work further from race day and it brings in funds before the race. Race directors have lots of costs before the race like medals and swag, shirts, bibs, security and location deposits. If you know you’re going help them out and pay early. Of course if your plans aren’t set completely yet you might have lots of good reasons to hold off. These might include training time, dealing with an injury, family or work commitments. But if you KNOW you’re going just register and you’ll get some bonus training motivation!
Refresh your playlist
Depending on the rest of your life music might be a big part of your everyday or not. I pretty much only consume music when I’m working out. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it though. Even though I don’t listen to music very much my playlist can still get stale when I’m running more in the summer months. You might be like me and not know what’s out there at any moment or you might be totally tuned into the latest tracks. Either way it’s worth taking an evening each spring to discover new tunes and add them to your playlists. Having a few new tunes sprinkled in with the old makes everything seem so much fresher and you get excited about getting out there again.
Service your gear
This might not be mostly for runners but it could be. Not much running specific gear really needs to be serviced, maybe a GPS watch, but we do other things too. You should take your bike into the shop for a tune up, make sure your kayak or paddle board is safe for the season or basically check over any other equipment you plan to use. Even though you might have used your gear just a few months ago you’d be surprised how quickly you forget about all the little things that were driving you nuts at the time. It’s worth servicing it now so that the first day you want to use it it’s already 100% ready to go. It’s also a good idea to check on things earlier rather than later as dealing with problems could have a good sized price tag attached to it. If something needs a major repair or even to be replaced it’s better to have some time to plan for that rather than feel under the gun when you’re already missing out on your favorite activity.
These 10 things really can be done at any time of year but they make a lot of sense to do in the spring. The weather for ‘spring’ can vary a lot depending on where you live but it usually comes right before your highest milage months of the year. So whether its warm or still pretty much winter spring is a great time to prepare for the best running year you can possibly have. What is the one thing you make sure to do for your running every spring? Leave it in the comments below!