Transition to spring running

by • May 13, 2013 • Running wildComments (0)1037

Don’t let early-season injuries bring you down

Mike Halko runs in New Zealand, near the site of the “Lord of the Rings” films. Courtesy of Mike Halko

Mike Halko runs in New Zealand, near the site of the “Lord of the Rings” films. Courtesy of Mike Halko

Spring is here and our trails, finally free of ice and snow, beckon runners and walkers of all abilities. The longer, warmer days seem to pump our bodies with adrenaline – and our minds with optimism. Now is the time to pursue those fitness goals pledged several months ago. Just getting off the treadmill and feeling firm ground underfoot can do wonders for your motivation. Before you head outside, though, take a few minutes to prepare for the all-too-brief outdoor running season.



Take care of your feet, knees and back by selecting the proper shoe. The first step is to identify your foot type. A Runner’s Word article ( will help you figure out if you pronate or have a normal foot pattern. Knowing your type will determine what degree of support your foot needs. Better yet, stop by Skinny Raven, Anchorage’s best-equipped running store, for a running test and a careful fitting to find the best shoe to fit your needs.


Motivational apps

Tracking time and distance for motivation. Twenty years ago, folks wrote their daily runs down in journals and calendars. The old ways still work, but technology has brought some interesting advances. Smartphone apps make it easier to track routes, total miles run, speed per mile and other statistics that once required a team of support staff. My favorite is the Nike App (, which does all that and keeps your individual workout. It also provides cameos by elite runners to encourage and motivate you. Another Smartphone App, Runkeeper ( logs unique routes and also allows for sharing information with friends.  Map My Run ( is another good one, which is free and can also be used for biking.


Fundamentals, form
and training

We strive to maximize our motion by moving forward with minimal vertical or side variation. Take four minutes to watch this YouTube video ( Review the tips on posture during your runs. As we fatigue, our form usually starts to falter. Stay relaxed and have fun. More tips on form and training can be found on my favorite website, Alternatively, visit for some training variety.


Introvert or extrovert

Are you a running introvert or extrovert? Perhaps you are a little of both. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you continue your fitness journey. The introvert can find solo running energizing and meditative, whereas the extrovert might gain energy from his companions. A sense of camaraderie, or just knowing a friend awaits you at the trailhead can motivate you to lace up the shoes. You create a joint history of training in all manner of weather, and you can bond working toward that first event or simply just running together.

If the idea of group running appeals to you, check out these area running groups and consider joining one to experience the energy of training with others.


You’re not the only ones
enjoying spring

Here’s another reason to run with someone else: Bear and moose are also on the move. Make noise and stay alert when you’re on the trails. Give all wild animals space. It’s better to reverse course or take the long way around than try to slip pass a moose, especially if calves are near. If you use an iPod, try the one-earbud rule so you can be sensitive to your surroundings. Always let a friend know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Even in the city, interactions with wild animals are common, so stay alert.


Mark your race calendars now

The Runners Calendar is out, and it has a complete listing of all the events statewide. Note The Twilight 12K has a new date – May 31 – in the heart of downtown Anchorage. Also note: The Lost Lake Breathe of Life Run in Seward fills quickly, so don’t delay if you want to experience the best trail race in the state.


Mike Halko is a seasoned marathoner, ultrarunner and triathlete  with multiple finishes at the Boston Marathon, Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and Hawaii Ironman. He can be reached at

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