Fitness & Nutrition Tips

Tips to Start Running Outdoors

Let’s face it. By now, I’m sure a lot of you are feeling antsy and looking for safe ways to get out of the house. Cabin fever is setting in for a lot of us and it can really darken your mood and motivation. A lot of people are taking to the streets with running along with deeper, more focused at-home training to alleviate some of the quarantine blues.

There has been a lot of discussion about the safety of running outdoors during quarantine as the pandemic is going on, and most experts have agreed that doing a solo run outdoors is a considerably safe way to keep your cardiovascular health up as long as certain precautions are taken. If you are feeling antsy for some cardio and want to try it out, I’ve compiled a list of things to consider to get you started the right way. Running outdoors is a fantastic way to keep yourself fit, improve sleep and concentration, and lighten your mood. This might be a great time to give it a shot!

During quarantine you should consider a number of things before starting a running program. First, check with your doctor to make sure that running is right for you and definitely don’t do it if you are feeling sick in any way. You’ll probably be better off doing it alone rather than with a buddy during this time and you’ll want to maintain a safe 6 foot distance from anyone else at all times, so avoid busy areas or areas with high traffic. You’ll need to avoid touching anything during your run, especially public water fountains or park benches for rest periods. When you are done, be sure to sanitize any equipment like your water bottle, towel, headphones, phone or anything else you touched. Sweaty clothes should be cleaned after every use.

If you are going to give it a try, here are some simple tips for getting started.

  • First, what to wear – Avoid too many layers so you don’t regret it later on in your workout. Moisture-wicking and light clothing is better than anything too heavy or loose so you can avoid chafing.
  • Your footwear should be comfortable and have good traction with the floor. How much support you have in your shoes is a huge debate in the industry right now, since overly supportive shoes can cause damage to joints throughout the body and too little support can also be tricky for some. But that is a huge discussion that can be addressed at another time. For the purposes of this post, just choose something comfortable that you can still feel the floor in, and dig in to some better research on the topic if you want to dive into specifics – because there is a lot of talk about this topic.
  • Don’t overshoot it at the start. The key is being consistent with your program so you’ll want to make sure you enjoy the workout and don’t leave yourself feeling beaten down after each run.
  • Start with a few dynamic stretches to get the body moving, like leg swings or walking lunges. Work your way into a brisk walk, and then intensify when you feel ready.
  • When running, stand tall, eyes forward rather than down with your chest slightly open. Feet should land right under your center of gravity each stride.
  • Once you get a good rhythm and are feeling like you’ve got a good pace going, focus on fuller, deeper breaths rather than short, quick ones. There are some specific breathing tempos and drills you can try but for starters, just focus on full breaths.
  • When exploring different speeds and intensities, let your leg stride determine how fast you go rather than quickening your legs too much. Lead with knees upward and pick up your feet to avoid “lazy legs” and tripping.
  • Try to relax into the repetitive movement by relaxing your shoulders, hands and especially avoid tense feet. Try to land mid-foot each step rather than striking your heels every step to avoid excessive impact.
  • For starters, don’t run on consecutive days to give your body ample time to recover between workouts. Starting a new program can put you at risk for overtraining and can lead to faulty movement patterns and injury.
  • End with a cool down walk and some mild static stretches to close out your workout.
  • Be sure to follow a targeted plan of progression and be sure to write down your progress after your run. This is a good way to keep yourself motivated and really see how well you progress with time.

Below is a really great program I found that walks you through a typical start-off to a great running program. I like this one because it hits all the points about keeping your targets realistic, manageable and not over-doing it. It’s always good to have a plan and I like the way this one progresses. If at any point you don’t quite feel ready for the next step in the list below, just repeat the same week until you feel ready for the next challenge. It’ll get you on your way to running like a pro in no time!

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