Tips to help you gear up for springtime races.

Help yourself get ready with tips from Rae Smida, a Personal Trainer at the Emma B. Howe Y in Coon Rapids:

Outdoor running is different than running indoors

Even though you’re doing the same activity, running outdoors requires a little extra effort than your treadmill or track workouts due to factors like:

  • Varying levels of difficulty
  • Unexpected terrain
  • Weather
  • Increased importance on personal safety


Even if you’re very familiar with your neighborhood, you might not realize how hilly it really is until you run it. When you head outside for a run, you’ll quickly notice there are ups and downs—big and small.

If you’ve been running indoors, one way to help prepare yourself for this outdoor running factor is to start incorporating inclines into your treadmill workout—try doing short intervals of moderate inclines, or set a low incline and stick with it for the duration of your run.


Whether you’re running in a neighborhood or on a trail, it’s important to keep an eye on the ground for unexpected obstacles like potholes, ice, branches and other debris.

To help you prepare for the uneven terrain you’ll find outdoors, incorporate stability and balance exercises into your workouts. At the gym, you can try standing on a BOSU ball or balance disc—at home, you can simply take your shoes off and alternate standing on one foot at a time.


When you live in Minnesota the weather at this time of year can be blustery or balmy. Before you head out for a run, make sure you’re dressed appropriately—dressing for 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the temperature is a good rule of thumb. Check out a quick primer on assembling the right apparel for an outdoor run.


Running outdoors gives you an opportunity to enjoy the scenery—but most often, you won’t be the only one out and about. From motorists to pets, you’ll need to be very aware of your surroundings when you head out for a jog.

Some good rules of thumb include:

  • Ensuring you are visible—wear bright colors and/or clothes with reflective elements
  • Running with one earbud out, so that you can hear what’s happening around you
  • Pre-planning your route (Map My Run is a good tool for this) and altering someone where you’ll be and how long you expect to be gone
  • Carrying some essentials with you, like a charged phone, a little cash and an ID

Run Club can help you prepare

With these additional variables to consider, if you’re new to outdoor running, be prepared to slow your pace down, run a shorter distance, or use intervals—for example, run for a minute and walk for two.

Also allow yourself more time for a dynamic warm-up, including cardio exercises to get your heart rate going—think jogging in place and leg swings. When you’re done running, keep moving for a bit and be sure to stretch.

For more tips like this and built-in support, consider trying a Run Club at your local Y. Rae facilitates Run Club at the Emma B. Howe Y in Coon Rapids. It meets Monday evenings, Thursday mornings and every-other Saturday. Get more info on Facebook, or by emailing Rae.