By Daniel Gambino

If you’re safe out there while running and riding, you’re going to have more fun. In turn, you’re going to find more enjoyment and stay healthier. Pretty simple stuff, huh?

So here’s a list of things to consider each and every time you exercise and work out. Hopefully these simple steps will help avoid injury, minimize risk, and keep you out there having fun!

1. Always try to run and ride with a partner or group of people near your skill level. That way if something goes wrong you have help already there to assist you. It’s also much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you. Among other benefits, it will motivate you to keep going while giving you a chance to actually pace yourself safely. Heart-rate monitors are also an extremely effective tool in keeping your target pace in check.

2. Stay hydrated. This is so very important, especially at this time of year. Drink before, during, and after your work out. Temperatures can reach well above 120 Fahrenheit on the streets, so keeping fluids down will help keep you from over-heating and prevent a trip to the ER. No-brainer! So invest in products that make this easier. Hydration packs, belts, and bottles are all effective ways to keep fluids on you and ready to use. I prefer products that are durable, BPA free, and it’s nice when they’re insulated to keep your drinks cold even on a hot day.

3. Plan out your route before your workout by driving your course or mapping out your way with GPS. That way you can constantly keep track of how far you’ve gone and how much farther you have left to go. It also makes you more aware of your surroundings, which is always a good thing to do no matter where you are or what you’re doing. If you’re counting on running by a convenience store to get additional hydration, this is a great way to plan that as well. If you’re running, always run AGAINST traffic! If you’re riding, obey all traffic laws… police are watching cyclists, too!

4. Be careful not to increase your mileage and time by more that 10% per week. Doing so puts you at risk of over-committing yourself to exercises you may not be ready for. Keep patient and stick with your schedule, and in the end the benefits will take care of themselves. Never run two long days back to back. Recovery time is just as important as the workout itself.

5. Don’t stretch cold muscles! This can lead to pulls and tears in muscle fibers which can easily lead to big trouble and injury. First, warm up by jogging or walking briskly for several minutes before stretching. But never forget to stretch!

6. Ice aching muscles and joints as quickly as possible. This will cut down on inflammation and swelling and will quicken recovery time. But never ice for much more than 20 minutes at a time.

7. Try to avoid playing music while exercising. This will not only allow you to concentrate on your form and pace, but will also allow you to be more in touch with what is happening around you and behind you. You may not hear the squeal of tires or the angry Great Dane on pursuit until it’s too late.

8. Carry essentials! Some items I never leave without are my phone, a credit/debit card, and especially my ID. It’s not worth the risk to not have these items in an emergency, you’ll be glad you brought them with you.

9. Invest in proper running/cycling apparel and equipment. Clothing with reflective materials can literally be life saving. NON-cotton socks will avoid blistering and soggy feet, and products such as Body-Glide will prevent chaffing. Clip-on blinky lights aren’t bright enough to light your path, but they get the job done by letting motorists know that they need to steer clear.

Daniel is a bike tech, web developer, and shoe enthusiast for Soler’s Sports. He’s been on the team for over a year, and enjoys getting to know new people that come into the store every day. You can often find him riding his single speed mountain bike at parks around the city, or taking a joy ride on one of his vintage road bikes through Grey Forest.