Why do we run? Even though we’re hardwired as humans to do it, hauling our bodies from our warm beds and pounding the pavement can sometimes be a bit of a push.
But running can truly change your life. It’s free, you can do it anywhere, and it makes us happy. Think about when you were a kid – when you were excited, you couldn’t stop running. Round the park, through the garden, up and down the supermarket aisle. It just comes to us naturally and it brings us joy.
While running is innate, it doesn’t mean we can take to it straight away. Modern lifestyles mean we don’t no longer need to chase down antelope to survive – at a push, a slight jog to catch the bus is the only purposeful run we’ll perform all week.
So we need to learn how to run again. And once we’re used to treadmill running, we need to transition to outdoors. Ready? Get set, go…
1. Plan realistically
Following an achievable list of goals is better than taking off on day one and winging it from there. When we say realistically, we mean don’t aim for a half-marathon from the get-go. You’ll only burn out or injure yourself. Complete beginners to outdoor runs should find a realistic plan – our personal trainers can work with you to explore the best training methods. And of course, there are plenty of online plans, apps, podcasts and books to help you out.
2. Get kitted out correctly
Running might be free, but it’s important to invest in a quality kit before you go outdoors. The most important investment of all is the right running shoes. From getting your gait analysed (the angle at which your foot hits the floor) to finding the right level of cushioning, our guide to finding the best running shoes will help you run more naturally, comfortably and effectively.
3. Focus on your breath
Indoor running gives you the luxury of controlling your pace, distance and time. The metrics are right in front of your face. Of course, you can invest in the flashiest tech to give you a similar idea when running outdoors, but you’ll mainly rely on your internal clock and instincts. Your breathing is a good way to measure this: if you can maintain a ‘conversational pace’ (i.e. hold a chit-chat while moving) then you’re going at a sustainable pace. You can eventually build this aerobic capacity, but cut back on intense speeds at first. If your chest hurts and breathing is hard and uncomfortable, slow down.
4. Factor in the elements
Some runners head out rain, wind or shine, but you should be careful and clever about it – especially if you’re a newbie. If it’s a blindingly hot day and you’re off on an hour-long run, dress appropriately and take plenty of fluids. If it’s snowy and slippy, don’t be afraid to take your running indoors now and then – treadmills are a great way to work on your form anyway.
Perfect your technique
If you’re used to running on a treadmill, you may need to adapt your form for the natural world. It helps to work on your foot strike, landing more midfoot than forefoot. Another way to run better outdoors is to hit the floor with your foot just in front or underneath your hip. This way you’ll push your body in the right direction without wasting energy. Read our guide to improving your running technique by personal trainer and fitness author Halvor Lauvstad for more nifty tips.