Love it or loathe it, running is a great form of exercise; it’s free, can be done anywhere, and burns more calories than most mainstream exercises. So long as you as you have no existing joint problems (sorry Debbie with the dodgy knees, you’ll have to sit out on this one) running can be both therapeutic and addictive.

While incorporating running on the treadmill into your workout at the gym can be a great way of building up your fitness levels, I would always opt for outdoor running as a much better method while using your precious time in the gym to focus on weights and strength exercises. Treadmill running is boring, harder to track progress and not as fun! So whether you’re starting out running for the first time, or already enjoying a run here and there, read the following tips and you’ll be a pro in no time!

Getting started with outdoor running

If you’re starting out running for the first time, skip the treadmill and head straight out to your local park. Here are a few ways to follow best practice:
Get the gear: buy yourself some comfortable and supportive running trainers. Head into any sports shop and they will be able to advise you. Do your research and read other runners’ reviews but just remember everybody’s feet are different and so trying on your trainers before you buy them is a must!
Start off slow: Don’t start off thinking you can run 10km in 45 minutes on your first run. You will have to build up your running fitness slowly. Find a comfortable running pace that you can keep up with; it’s always better to start out slow and build it up
Remember the essentials: if you think you’ll be out for a long time, take some water and some cash with you. Some runners leave their phone at home but I always prefer to take mine with me for music, maps and in case of an emergency
– Walk breaks: contrary to popular belief, stopping for a 30-60 second walk to regain your breath and strength isn’t a failure, but instead can help you run longer and at an overall quicker pace
Double up: convince a friend to join you as you can be great motivation for each other. You can also try fun runs (read my Run or Dye experience) or set yourself a goal and try the Couch to 5km guide or sign up to a 10km run

Treadmill to outdoor running

Transitioning from treadmill running to outdoor running should be taken with care as the differences between the two can affect your body in many ways. Running outdoors can seem hard and more daunting at first, but the benefits of fresh air and differences in terrain will turn you into a much more agile runner.
Ensure your trainers have grippy sole: as you’ll be running on a range of terrains when outside, your trainers will have to have soles that won’t let you slip when the surface becomes a little unsteady. As mentioned above, running trainers should give ample support for your ankles
Grass over pavement: pavements are harsh and nowhere near as forgiving as your trusted bouncy treadmill belt. Stick to fields/trails at first until you build up the strength in your knees and ankles
Shin splints: due to the unforgiving terrain, shin splints as much more likely when running outdoors; should you experience them, don’t try to run through the pain. Rest and stretch for a few minutes and ease back in to your run with a lower pace focussing on your quads to drive your legs
Maintain a constant pace: don’t feel compelled to run at the same pace as you do on the treadmill; natural gradient changes that you may not even be aware of, as well as changes in terrain, will effect the pace you run at. In order to avoid falling or muscle injuries, run at a comfortable pace and build it up over time
–  Pick a route: try to plan where you’ll be running before you head out so you don’t get lost or underestimate the distance of your run. I like to track my run using the Mapometer app (Map My Run/Nike+ are also good alternatives) so I can save the routes, as well as keeping track of my pace and time.

I find running outdoors much more psychologically beneficial; you’re able to physically see a finishing point and can therefore push yourself to reach it. For me, running on the treadmill is reserved for HIIT sprints. Find a style of running that suits you and your lifestyle and try to incorporate these tips into your outdoor runs. Just remember to have fun with it; you’ll begin to compete with your previous speeds, times and distances, which should ultimately be your only competition!

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