5 Tips For Outdoor Running That'll Help You Stick To Your Cardio Routine All Summer
As the temperatures continue to climb, it's hard to resist going outside to soak up all that extra sunshine. Even if you don't consider yourself much of a runner, you might just find yourself actually summoning the motivation to pound the pavement for the sheer sake of basking in all that glorious vitamin D. But it might be hard to sustain that motivation throughout the entire summer, especially once you remember how lovely indoor air conditioning feels, and how awful sore knees can be. Rest assured, though, there are a few tips for outdoor running that'll help you stick with this fitness routine for more than just a week — and hey, who knows, maybe running will become your new favorite workout by the end of the summer.
Look, I get it: Getting into the swing of a running routine can be really hard. It's easy to say you'll stick with it after that first successful jog, when the endorphins are rushing through your body, and you feel like you're literally on top of the world. But then you try to go for another run later that week, and your legs feel like jello, and you wonder why people do this "for fun."
The reality is, running isn't always going to make you feel like a million bucks. It might take a few weeks, or even months to make this workout a habit that you won't quit, but trust me, it's not nearly as hard as you think, and it'll be so worth it in the end. Here are five tips to help you ease into your outdoor runs and stay motivated all summer long.
1. Start Slow To Avoid Injuries
Slow and steady wins the race, my friends. Injuring yourself right off the bat is a surefire way to lose motivation, so if you haven't been out for a jog in a while, make sure you ease into the routine with some power-walking, or by alternating at first between running and walking during your cardio session, so your muscles don't get shocked by the high-impact exercise.
The same goes for anyone who's been running on the treadmill for the past several months: According to Runner's World, running outside might be a bit more demanding on your body, because you don't have the momentum of the treadmill belt to help you along. POPSUGAR Fitness suggests "running on softer surfaces like grass, a track, or a wooded trail," which will be a bit easier on your joints, and will ease the transition between treadmill and pavement as much as possible.
2. Find A Running Buddy (Yes, Your Dog Totally Counts)
If you know you're the type of person to make excuses to skip your run, enlist a friend who's down to hold you accountable, no matter what. Find someone who's not afraid to blow up your phone, or tell you first thing in the morning that it's time to wake TF up and seize the day with a morning run. Yes, this person might be kind of annoying at first, but honestly, they'll provide a nice dose of healthy competition, and even on those days when running is the last thing you want to be doing, you'll at least be able to look forward to spending that quality time with a friend.
BTW, your running buddy can totally be your dog — that is, if he's down for a quality sweat sesh, and he won't want to pee on every single lawn you pass.
3. Take The Scenic Route
Finding a scenic route to run through, such as a local trail or public park, is an easy way to make your cardio routine a lot more enjoyable. For one thing, you're bound to see something new during each and every one of your jogs, because nature's cool like that. Plus, eliminating the hustle and bustle of city noises and cars can make your runs much more meditative and therapeutic. Shoshona Bennett, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating women with postpartum depression, told Runner's World,
Spending time in nature can give a person a spiritual connection. You feel like you’re connected to something bigger, and that’s Mother Earth. When a woman looks at the trees, the birds, the sun, it’s very grounding.
4. Think Positive Thoughts
Be honest: How many times have you gone outside for a run and then found yourself internally complaining the whole time, with your thoughts focused only on how much you hate running? Same, girl.
It can be hard to move past those negative thoughts during a difficult run, but trust me, it's not impossible. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Memory, the simple act of recalling a positive memory of when you felt great exercising — like, say, that time you had no problem slaying your mile-time, and you rode the runners' high for hours after the fact — can help you make it through a challenging workout in the present moment. Seriously, if you can manage to conjure up just one good memory of a time when you totally killed it in your workout, even the most dreaded run will suddenly feel like a piece of cake.
5. Give Yourself A Break
If you feel the need to take a break (or three, or 10) to walk a bit during your run, do not be ashamed to do so — seriously. According to Women's Running, taking walking breaks during a run doesn't automatically mean you "failed" at your cardio for the day. In fact, the outlet reports, a walking break here and there can allow you to run for longer periods of time, and it might even be a necessary quick-switch to make when you're running outside and come upon a hill, or some otherwise-difficult terrain.
Overall, go easy on yourself, girl. When all is said and done, take pride in the fact that you made it outside for a run in the first place.