Spring just around the corner, so now is the time to hop off the treadmill and hit the open road. Exercising in fresh air is bound to make you happier, but it might be a little rougher on your joints since treadmills are more forgiving than concrete and asphalt. Plus, moving your run outdoors means you lose the assistance of the treadmill pulling your legs backward, so your body works harder striking the ground with a bit more zeal. I encourage you to get outside, but use these tips to make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Ease into it. Move your runs outside gradually to allow your joints time to acclimate to the new running surface. I suggest adding one new outdoor run to your regimen each week decreasing the number of treadmill runs you do until all your runs are outside. If you run four times a week, the transition will take a month. Also, don't make your long run your first run outside.
- You might feel slower. You might feel slower running outside with wind resistance, unpredictable road surfaces, and the challenge of propelling yourself forward off of solid ground. On the brighter side, you might be so inspired by the beauty of nature that you won't even notice your pace.
Keep on reading for more tips.
- Go for a soft landing. If you can, start off on a dirt trail or a spongy outdoor track; these surfaces offer more joint friendly than pavement. If a trail or track is hard to come by, try to avoid concrete sidewalks opting to run on asphalt instead, which has more give. Remember to run against the flow of traffic so you can see oncoming cars.
- Take it easy on the hills. Running uphill can make you feel like a super hero when you crest over the top, but running downhill is surprisingly rough on the quads and knees. Here are some tips for running downhill — you can learn to love the descent.
- Safety first. I like to leave a note with my running route for hubbie and the time I'm expected to return so someone knows where I am. If he's not home, I send him a text (If he's desk bound this makes him jealous. But a gal has got to run!). I also run with my Road ID bracelet, but you can bring your ID along. Running outside means you will encounter other people, cars, and dogs, so keep the volume of your iPod down so you can hear what's going on around you. Don't forget the sunscreen and any other protective gear you'll need in the elements. If running at night is unavoidable, be sure to follow our night running tips.
- Map it! Use Map My Run to find running routes in your zip code. You can also map out your route ahead of time to check your mileage and elevations to ensure there are no hilly surprises mid run.