Wondering How to Run Outdoors? Ease Into It!

back view of woman running
Spring has sprung! And there's no better time to learn how to run outdoors.

by Lindsay Tigar

The sun's out — time to get outside! As winter fades away and the temperatures climb, there's no better time to consider switching your workout focus toward some outdoor running. The fresh, crisp spring air will be light on your lungs and cool on your face as you take in the scenery and get in your workout for the day! Outdoor fitness sessions can be invigorating and rewarding, and your body will appreciate any planning you can get done before you hit the trails. Check out these tips on how to run outdoors to ensure you stay healthy and enjoy the weather!

First, Figure Out Your Shoes

Have you been logging miles on the treadmill since the first freeze in November? If so, you will likely find that outdoor running can pose different hurdles for your footwear. From uneven pavement to varied terrain that takes you up and down hills, you need to ensure your feet have the support they need to face the challenges of running out in nature.

Most experts recommend heading to an athletic store where a professional can watch your stride and gait and make a recommendation based on how your heels and toes land with every step.

Second, Be Smart About Safety

For some runners, part of the beauty of outdoor treks is being all by themselves with music, a podcast, or the sounds of nature. This can be an effective way to clear your thoughts and energize your spirit, but it's important to put safety first when you're alone on the trail — even if that trail is a city street!

It's also important that you bring your phone or a whistle and choose your route carefully, opting for well-lit spots over less visible areas. When in doubt, ask a friend to check on you via cell phone at a certain time to make sure you get home safe and sound.

Third, Dress in Layers

While spring can mean much less frost and (hopefully) very little snow, there may not be scorching sunshine all of the time. Mornings may present a nip in the air, and wind or rain could pick up as the day wears on. Part of learning how to run outdoors is figuring out what to wear when you're heading out the door, and layers are a smart place to start.

Look for moisture-wicking options that are lightweight, breathable, and easy to sport underneath a zip jacket. It may be smart to pick capris or leggings over shorts, as they could be too breezy if you're not used to the chill. As your body heat rises with each passing mile, you can shed off the top layer to keep yourself from overheating.

Lastly, Cross-Train!

One of the leading causes of injury in running is overdoing it. You can work to counteract this by training other muscle groups while you prepare for your 10K, half-marathon, or leisurely spring run.

Cross-training at the gym can be a great way to improve your strength, shorten your pace-per-mile, and build up your endurance. A few times a week, give your legs a break and pick up some weights or complete a circuit on the floor. The weight resistance could make a substantial difference next time you go for a jog in the park. With time, you may even find that those tough hills aren't as intimidating as they initially seemed!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.