Moving from running exclusively on a treadmill to running outside can be a little daunting if you’ve never done it before. On the treadmill you are completely in control of your doman but outside the airconditioned predictability of the gym there’s a whole world of variables you can’t control. More people, more noise, more distractions, uneven surfaces, unforseeable weather complications – it’s all rather inconvenient, really. But here’s the thing, for all it’s bother, on a good day, running outside is a beautiful, life-affirming experience that can completely transform your mood. The fresh air, the scenery, being out in nature – unless the weather is horrendous – the positives of running outside far outweigh the negatives. Here are our top tips for transitioning from treadmill to outdoor running…
Running outdoors is a little more demanding than running on a treadmill so to make the transition easier you should begin by developing your fitness as much as possible indoors. The most effective ways to do this are:
Every step you take when running on the treadmill is the same and while these controlled conditions are great for improving your fitness, there are a few adjustments you can make to ensure the ideal preparation for running outside. Avoid setting the treadmill to one speed and then plodding away for ages. Even if you find the smoothest piece of land to run on and the calmest weather conditions running outdoors is unlikely to be easy so make the effort to work a bit harder on the treadmill. Follow a programme that changes the speeds and the incline regularly and make sure you try different programmes often. Even if you’re going to run the same few routes outdoors when you get started, every time you run will be different because of changing temperatures, wind and weather. You can prepare yourself for this by making every run indoors different too.
When you first venture outside it’s best to begin gently and work up from this point. Don’t expect to be able to run outdoors for the same time that you can run indoors straight away. You might be able to do this and if you can, great, but don’t be surprised if it takes a few attempts to work up your running time.
It’s a good idea to begin with a few steps at a time. Pick landmarks ahead of you, trees, benches, road junctions, and run to these before walking a little to recover. You’ll quickly find that you can increase the time and distances that you run for while decreasing the time you spend recovering. From then on you’re aiming to hit the magic 20 minutes of running without a break. Work up gradually to this point with plenty of walk breaks along the way and once you’ve reached this landmark, you’ll never look back.
Safety is all-important when running outside. Make sure you remember to take your keys and some water and it’s a good idea to have your phone with you just in case you take a wrong turn and lose your way or you suffer an injury and need to call for assistance. It’s best to buy some kit that allows you to store your keys and phone in a pocket that won’t rattle or rub. If you do carry anything in your hands, try to keep your fists fairly relaxed to avoid building up tension in your neck and shoulders.
The issue of taking music often arises when running outside. It’s true that music can provide a good distraction from the effort of running and can help motivate you but it’s better to focus totally on what’s going on around you.
It’s a good idea to plan roughly where you’ll be running to before you leave the house. It may be hard to imagine now but it’s all too easy to get distracted when out running and suddenly find that you’ve lost track of where you are.
If you’re planning a longer than usual route, remember that you have to get back home under your own steam too! When running outside you can’t just step off the treadmill for a break, you need to be able to get back to base so bear this in mind when you set out. It’s easy to feel good and want to stretch yourself but it’s a good idea to do this by running circular routes of increasing distance around your base rather than running further and further away in a straight line and then finding that you’re too tired to make it all the way back.