If you’ve been busting your butt on the treadmill over the last few months and need a change of scenery, it’s time to head outdoors and hit the pavement running! Here are a few tips that’ll prep you for the differences and help ease the transition.
Upgrade your running shoes. You don’t want to run on a road in worn out shoes and end up hurting from shin splints. Upgrade your shoes by going to a store where they watch you run. One of my favorites is Fleet Feet. I first discovered them at their Syracuse location and still go back on my trips from NYC. They just suited me up in the new Boost shoe by Adidas. My run feels lighter, which is critical when going from the treadmill to tougher outdoor routes where you deal with different types of terrain and weather patterns.
Train first. Because jogging outdoors is generally more intense than the belt assisted forward motion of the treadmill, you need to train your body to adapt. Instead of jogging 6 miles per hour at an incline of zero, you should reduce your speed and increase your incline. When you bring your speed down to 5.5 and run with an incline of 2–3, it will simulate running outdoors where you’re the one who pushes the ground away under your feet, not the machine.
Focus on hills. Try doing a treadmill routine where you start at an incline of 2, then do 30–60 second intervals where you up the incline to 8–10. This will simulate the challenge of finding hills on your running route outside.
Mix up your routine. Change your run each day or week so you don’t get bored. Keep it fresh by trying different routes and alternating between interval training and steady speed runs. You might also want to find a local park where you can use benches for running lunges, push-ups, triceps dips, etc. Using your other muscles will tone your body into beach form and simulate a gym session, DVD, or fitness class. For an obstacle course type running routine with cross-training muscle moves, visit my blog “Put some fun in your run.”
Stretch. Stretch after your workout to keep injury free. Check out my 5-minute quick stretch video here.