Transitioning to the Outdoors
This winter the weather has been super cold—ridiculously extreme in some areas. In the north east, where I live, there have been many days I’ve felt freezing just walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.
Between cold, wind, snow, and ice; the last thing I’ve wanted to do is to run outside. Talk about a motivation zapper! Many days I just wanted to turn the heat up and stay in. Thankfully, as a personal trainer I have a home gym with a nice treadmill that has allowed me the opportunity to get my miles in inside the comfort of my home.
In the past 4 months, I have logged in about 70 miles per week running on my treadmill, safe and comfortably, I must add. There have been many days where I have opened the blinds since my treadmill is on the main floor, and watched the snow fall as I ran indoors feeling blessed to have the resource to get an indoor workout.
Today was my first day I began to transition from treadmill running to running on the roads because outdoor race season is just around the corner and I have a spring marathon I am beginning to train for. And boy did I feel a difference! To be frank, it kicked my butt! It was much harder and I really had to push myself.
It was a strain and I was reminded just how important it is to transition gradually from treadmill to road. I was also reminded that the treadmill and road running are not equal!
If you are wondering where your rock star running pace went when transitioning from indoors to outdoors (I know I did), let me clear the air. First, just look at the treadmill surface versus the roads, there is a substantial difference right there. The treadmill is softer and much easier on the joints. Your body responds accordingly and for this reason you may find yourself rarely sore from a treadmill workout. And it may feel much easier.
I am not stating the treadmill is bad because it serves its purpose during inclement weather, but it should not be your only workout, if you are planning on running a road race.
Second, if you are running indoors on a treadmill, you have a treadmill belt moving under you, whereas outside you have to propel yourself forward. From this you may find yourself breathing much harder outdoors versus on a treadmill. I felt just this today as I was out of breath during my outdoor run. Lastly, there is a big difference in the challenge of indoor versus outdoor running when you look at the difference in terrain, wind resistance and hills. This does not mean you should steer clear of the treadmill, but it is important to transition to outdoor running to have a successful outdoor running season.
Get Outside Every Other Day
To avoid an injury and extreme soreness, gradually transition your treadmill running to outdoors by going outdoors every other day. On the opposite day, run on the treadmill as this is much easier on your joints and will help you with a smooth transition.
I find this is the easiest way when I transition, as my body does not feel super fatigued. Every week add one day less day of indoor running to transition seamlessly!
Head to the Track One Day Per Week
If you are missing your super-quick treadmill pace you regularly would run, head to the track to put your quick leg turnover to the test. Since the track is a softer surface—more like the treadmill surface—running quicker will be much easier then road running. If you perform this one day per week, this will help you to quicken your pace without a treadmill belt moving under you. Track workouts save my speed every year!
Wear a GPS Watch
Another great way to transition from treadmill running to the great outdoors is to wear a GPS watch.
Having the instant feedback a GPS provides is like having a treadmill screen in front of you—this will make you aware of your pace and more likely to push more.
Add Core Exercises
Running outdoors continuously uses your core because of the altering terrains, hills and wind resistance. It is essential to have good balance along with strong core or you will feel like you are going to fall with each strike of your feet. In my professional life as a trainer, along with my personal life; I practice core exercises like the plank on a daily basis. People often ask me how I have a six pack and it is a culmination of core exercises, running and healthy eating.
So, if you have not done so yet, you should head outdoors to transition from your treadmill to the roads. Take gradual steps to get back to enjoying the great outdoors as you get your sweat on. You will have a more challenging workout while enjoying Mother Nature in the process. And you will feel even better both mentally and physically! Happy Running!