After an entire winter spent on treadmills or running inside, it can often be tricky to transition to the outdoors. On a treadmill, our pace, distance and incline is readily available and adjustable. There are also great distractions like TVs and music. While these luxuries are not available outside, we can assure you that hitting the pavement is just as much fun. Nothing is more beautiful than a springtime run in great weather. With a few adjustments, you will feel comfortable and strong running outdoors in no time.
Indoor runs tend to be in a controlled environment. When you head outside, there are a lot of variables— weather, wind, elevation, and surface type just to name a few. Start at a pace that is a bit slower than your treadmill runs to get used to the outdoor differences. Once you adjust, you’ll be on your way to running your previous pace, if not faster.
Don’t be afraid to take walk breaks.
A walk break does not mean you failed your run. On the contrary, it could help you run longer. Inserting one or several 30-second to one minute walks into the middle of your run can extend your workout and allow you feel stronger. Walks can also help on hillier runs. If you’ve been running on a flat or low incline inside, a brisk walk up steep hills is a great way to become used to new terrain. Before long, you’ll be running up inclines with ease.
Pick a route.
Setting up a predetermined run will help you succeed on your outdoor journey. You won’t get lost or end up with more mileage then intended. You’ll also be ready for any hills along the way. If you don’t know the mileage of a route by your house, use a website like Map My Run to create new runs and experiment with different courses.
Related: Train for Your First 5K
Carry the essentials
Always take some type of identification on a run, whether it is a license or a Road ID. Carrying cash or a card can be helpful for water breaks if you are in an area without fountains. If you live within a city, pack a transit card in case you end up further from home than anticipated. Many runners like to unplug and leave their phone at home, but consider carrying it along. It makes it easier to call for any assistance or to bring up a map in case you get lost.
Take to the trails.
Or grass or bridle path or dirt! Only running on pavement can be hard on your legs. Running on soft surfaces is easier on your body and can aid recovery from tougher runs. Plus trail running is a beautiful hiatus from busy roads. Just be sure to stick to well-marked areas and consider bringing along a friend.
The best way to get used to running outside is to make it exciting! Find a friend or join a running group. Don’t be afraid to run with others; you can find a runner or group in your area that trains at a similar speed or experience level. Plan a destination run to your favorite brunch place or coffee shop. Drive to a park or a new-to-you route. Or train for a race. Having fun on the run is the best way to adapt. Enjoy the outdoors!
Related: Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan