Beware the warmth of March: Runners risk injury if they train too hard too soon

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Two jogger runs on E. Monroe St. Friday, March 16, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Record-setting warm March temperatures have lured a multitude of runners and joggers out of hibernation and onto Chicago’s streets and paths much earlier than usual.

But however invigorating the warmth may feel, it’s important not to get too carried away, according to Meg Sullivan, training program manager for the Chicago Area Runners Association.

“The number one thing is not to overdo it at first,” said Sullivan. I know a lot of people start off right away and say, ‘I’m going to run 5 miles,’ and they haven’t run for a couple of years.”

Sullivan offers these tips to ease back into those running shoes:

â—† Walk-run by alternating between running for two minutes, walking for one minute.

â—† Don’t run every day. Bike, swim or do something else, then get back to running the next day. “Then you’ll be able to run further and stronger,” Sullivan said.

â—† Stretch before and after. Dynamic stretching (stretching while moving) before running is a new trend recommended by CARA.

CARA offers a training program for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon that starts June 2, but has other programs for runners at any experience level.

Marathon race director Carey Pinkowski thinks the warmer weather may result in an even fitter than usual race field.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of opportunity to get outside. In addition to a new record high of 82 degrees set Friday, new records are expected to be set Saturday and Sunday and possibly Monday with temperatures forecast in the high 70s. Friday was the earliest the mercury ever hit 82: the previous earliest was March 27, 1945. Its not normally that high until June 21.

“It’s going to feel like summer for days on end,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro.

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