Let’s face it – running indoors on the treadmill is far easier than running outside. Treadmills offer a level of comfort hard to find outside because it creates a controlled environment with distance and calorie tracking only a finger-tap away. Some treadmills even have TVs! But let’s face it: we’re tired of being locked up inside due to COVID-19, and are ready to break into the outdoors for our workouts. Now that the weather is warming up and we’re seeing positive trends in the fight against COVID-19, it’s time to remind ourselves on how to be successful in our new, harder workouts. The learning curve may be steep at first, but take it one day at a time. When you’re planning a goal to run/walk a 5k, however, it’s time to bust out of your comfort zone and tackle the great outdoors! Follow these 6 tips to comfortably transition to outdoor running.
1. Start Slow
Running on a treadmill occurs in a controlled environment – running outside introduces other variables like weather, wind, elevation, etc. Start a slower pace than you normally would on the treadmill so you can adjust to the outdoor differences. Once you’ve adjusted you’ll hit your stride and likely match or exceed your previous pace.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Take Walk Breaks
And don’t consider a walk break ‘failing’ your run! Taking one or several 30-second to one minute walks in the middle of your run may actually extend your workout and make you feel stronger.
3. Pick a Route
Set up a predetermined route before you start running – running at random is likely going to deter you from going as far as you could with a set route. You also won’t get lost or end up with more mileage than intended. If you aren’t familiar with routes near your house, or their mileage, use an app like Map My Run or Nike Running to assist you.
4. Run Prepared
There are only a few things that you need with you when you go on a run, but they are all equally important. Always remember to bring some type of identification in case of emergency. Bringing a little cash or your credit card may also be helpful if you run out of water and there are no nearby water fountains. Also, you may end up running farther than you anticipated so it’s good to have some money in case you need to Uber home. Consider also bringing your phone in case of emergencies.
5. Explore the Great Outdoors
Strictly running on pavement is not only hard on your legs, it gets boring! Get adventurous and run on grass or along a trail in the woods. Running on soft surfaces is easier on your body and may help the recovery process after tougher runs. Just remember to stick to well-marked areas and consider bringing a friend.
6. Most Importantly, Have Fun!
The best way to get used to outdoor running is to make it exciting! Create an awesome playlist, grab a friend, and plan a fun destination to your favorite brunch place or coffee shop. Drive to a park or train for a 5k. Having fun is the best way to adapt – enjoy the outdoors!
Tag us in your outdoor running pics and show us what you are back to doing! If you experience any pain that lingers for more than a day or two, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor: 703.709.1114.
Dr. Thomas Schuler is a world-renowned, double board certified spine surgeon; trained in both neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons in America, and serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation as well as Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. Learn more about Dr. Schuler.