Happy Trails

9 Tips for New Runners, Bikers, and Walkers In Houston

And everyone else, really.

By Morgan Kinney Published in the February 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Listen up.

There’s no Texas law prohibiting cyclists or pedestrians from blasting Oingo Boingo at cochlea-eviscerating levels, but without at least one free ear, you could be oblivious to the truck about to hook a right in front of you.

Surprise! Bikers have to obey traffic laws.

Despite our ever-expanding network of protected trails, any cyclist logging miles is going to end up playing Frogger among the four-wheeled big boys once in a while—which is why cyclists are legally required to stop at lights, signal lane changes, and generally follow the rules of the road.

Pedestrians don’t always have the right-of-way.

A catchy, if untrue, phrase. Pedestrians must use a designated crosswalk to have the full protection of the law. If you don’t, prepare to hear the horn.

For new runners, it ain’t a race

We have two words for the newbies planning to start with an impromptu half marathon up and down Buffalo Bayou: shin splints. Yes, that sharp, radiating pain is often caused by doing too much, too fast. To build mileage safely, start with two to four 20-to-30-minute runs per week, adding in a single run every second week.

Hydrate!

This is important year-round, but as things heat up in Houston, not drinking enough water is plain dangerous. An hour before a run or walk, down a tall glass of H20; if you plan to run more than 30 minutes, it’s a good idea to bring a bottle along with you. A post-run Topo—complete with natural electrolytes—never hurts, either.

Light ’em up, up, up

Running at night? You’ll want a headlamp. And if you’re on two wheels, state law requires, at minimum, a white light affixed to your front handlebars and a red reflector on the rear.

Good gear makes the difference

You don’t need to drop a paycheck on the latest carbon-fiber, Bluetooth-connected socks, but getting fitted for running shoes at a local shop will go a long way toward preventing painful, expensive injuries. Bikers should buy—and actually wear—a helmet with the brand-new MIPS certification for maximum brain protection.

Track your progress

Always looking for a new trail to try? The Strava app collects crowd-sourced running, walking, and biking routes all across Houston (and beyond). It’s also a social network, meaning you can share your progress and follow that of your friends, too.

Keep calm and get that massage

Soothe sore muscles post-run with a foam roller or, to recover from a really rough session, splurge on a deep-tissue massage at Oasis Massage Salon in Asiatown. You’ll be back on the trail in no time.

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