Licensed Athletic Trainer Provides Tips on Making Switch
After what seems to have been an endless winter, spring has finally arrived and more runners will move from the treadmill to the pavement. Running outside is different than running inside and it’s not just because you’re no longer in a controlled environment running a pre-programmed route.
Running outside requires more physical effort than running inside. Your muscles work harder to push you forward and your joints take more of a pounding. When making the switch to outdoors, don’t expect at first to match the time or distance of your indoor runs. It will take a bit for your body to adjust to the new conditions. It’s also important to remember to properly warm up and cool down when running outside since most treadmills do that naturally for the runner.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when running outside:
- Be visible: When it comes to safety, the No. 1 mistake most runners make is not being visible to drivers. Most people run either in the early morning or in the evenings and the quality of light isn’t always the best. It’s important to wear reflective clothing and if the light levels are really low, consider carrying a flashlight or adding a headlamp. Remember to always run against the traffic since it’s easier for drivers to see you.
- Watch your step: Runners also need to adjust to the change in terrain. Whether you’re running on concrete, blacktop or a groomed trail, keep your eyes on what’s in front of you to make sure there’s nothing you could possibly trip over. Depending on the temperature, you also need to be on the lookout for any slippery spots.
- Dress for success: When running outside, pay attention to the weather. The temperature when starting out is sometimes on the cool side, but once you’ve been running for awhile you’ll warm up. Layers, such as a sweatshirt or light jacket, are a good idea since you can take it off and tie it around your waist as your body heats up. Hats are another must when running outside since it helps keep the sun off your head. And if you’re running during the day, be sure to put on waterproof sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Stay hydrated: On a treadmill, there’s a handy place to store your water bottle. When running outside, you either have to carry your water with you or wait until you get done for a drink. If you’re only going a short distance, you can probably make it without a water bottle. If you’re going to be out long, take along a water bottle so you don’t get dehydrated. Some people wear a belt that holds a water bottle instead of holding it in their hand. Another option is to plan your route so you circle back to your home and leave a water bottle outside so you can grab a quick drink.
Running is a great exercise and burns a lot of calories. It’s also a great stress buster, too. Exercising outside has its own benefits too since you’re getting fresh air, (hopefully) enjoying the sun and getting to spend time outdoors, which has proven to boost people’s moods.