For the past two weeks, I’ve been spring cleaning like a maniac. And as a result, my closets and office are now much cleaner – I’ve taken approximately 20 bags of stuff to the thrift store and I swear I feel 10 pounds lighter as a result.
Why does spring make us want to clean and refresh? Why not do it in winter, when we’re already stuck inside. Or in the fall, after the kids go back to school?
I think it’s because spring is a time of renewal. Everything starts to turn green and looks brand new. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, exciting and full of promise.
So I started thinking, why not apply the concept of spring cleaning to running? This is, after all, the time when many of us are getting back in the swing of training, after cutting back over the winter. We’re planning out the race calendar and getting ready to start building miles again.
Which means it’s a great time to spring clean your run!
SORT, PITCH, ORGANIZE:
Get all of your running gear and put it on your bed.
Sort into piles of like items – tights, tops, shoes, socks, gadgets, headbands, etc. Go through each pile and sort into keep, donate and trash.
If you actively use the item, keep it. If you don’t, put things that have useful life into the donate/sell pile, and the rest trash.-
That iPod armband you bought that you never use because it chafes your bicep? Get rid of it. The 5 pairs of running shoes that are totally worn out? Keep one for yard work, donate or toss the rest. The super-expensive running socks that creep down to your toes so you never wear them? Give them to someone else.
Just because something was expensive doesn’t mean it deserves a place in your closet. If you don’t use it, eliminate it.
Keep only what you love and is working for you.
I recently went through this process and found SIX PAIRS of tights that I forgot I had. SIX!!!!! That’s what happens when you have too much stuff to begin with – you can’t find what you need so you go out and buy more. Which makes the problem worse.
Getting rid of the stuff you don’t use makes it so much easier to find what you need, saving you time and effort that you can spend on running.
Once you’ve eliminated the unnecessary stuff, find a dedicated spot in your closet or bedroom, and use it for running gear only. I even have a drawer just for running bras, socks and undies, so that I’m not sorting through my regular underwear drawer for that stuff.
Organize your small accessories such as headbands, gadgets, charging cords, etc into bins in your drawer so they don’t get scattered and lost.
CHECK YOUR FORM:
Before you start building mileage for longer races later this year, do a form check. Fixing issues with how you run before they become problems will save you a ton of pain and suffering in the future.
Keep your chin up, gaze about 20 feet ahead of you, and your body upright. Imagine a string coming off the top of your head pulling you up. Slumping over – especially when you’re tired – can lead to backaches and other issues that translate into injuries. It also compresses your lungs which makes it harder to run.
A heavy foot landing – walking or running – can lead to shin splints. Aim to have your feet land directly under your hips when you run. This means taking shorter steps and moving your legs faster, but it results in a lighter landing, and allows your leg muscles to do the shock absorption rather than your knee joints. If you carry any extra weight, this is especially important.
Keep your elbows bent at approximately a 90 degree angle, hands loose (imagine you’re holding an egg in each one and you don’t want to drop it), and allow your arms to move loosely front to back when you run. Their job is to counterbalance the opposite foot and help you, ever so slightly, with forward momentum.
Do a little form check every few minutes to make sure your shoulder blades are pulled back, your head is forward, and your torso is upright. This will eventually create the habit of running that way all the time.
DO A BASELINE ASSESSMENT:
Assess your current performance right now, so you can measure your progress. Go to a track or other flat, measured mile where you won’t have to stop for traffic, and time yourself completing a mile. Give this a serious effort, and record the result in your journal, including what intervals you ran. Check yourself again on the same course every two months.
Have you ever spring-cleaned your run? If so, I’d love to hear about it!