Transitioning from a Treadmill to Running Outside

As the temperatures begin to rise this spring, runners will begin to shift their workouts from the treadmill to the outdoors. Many runners will note a difference in effort and feeling when they begin to run outdoors. Pamela Geisel, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist, has tips to help ease the transition to the pavement:

  • Transition the Frequency. Instead of shifting all of your runs outdoors at once, begin to transition 1 or 2 runs a week to get used to the harder surface of the outdoors. It is recommended to include a variety of surfaces for your outdoors run to include softer ones like the bridle path or dirt.
  • Start Out at a Slower Pace. Running on the treadmill has a decreased energy cost as compared to outdoor running. This can be attributed to lack of wind resistance, consistent terrain, and the movement of the mechanical belt.  Leave your watch at home the few runs and get a feel for running outdoors and the changes in surface, direction, pace and stride length that come along with it.
  • Check the Temperature. The great outdoors is known for being unpredictable this time of year so being prepared is key. Be sure to check the weather and dress for 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Layers are always a great option in order to adjust on the fly.
  • Don’t Forget your Strength Training. The most important factor when it comes to risk of injury and running, whether it be indoors or outdoors, is an appropriate strengthen training program. Incorporating a strength training program will help improve your alignment, strengthen your muscles in all three planes of motion and help absorb the forces while running.

Cardiovascular endurance will benefit from both indoor and outdoor workouts. Sometimes a treadmill workout is the best option whether it be for convenience, safety, timing or maybe you like to zone out and that’s okay! You will still reap the countless health benefits from your aerobic workout.

Pamela Geisel, MS, CSCS, is an exercise physiologist at Hospital for Special Surgery’s James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center. She graduated with honors from Towson University with a bachelor’s in exercise science and received her master’s in exercise physiology from Adelphi University. She has been in the fitness field since 2007 and has a special interest in using strength training to maximize performance and reduce injury for runners. Geisel is a long distance runner and has completed four marathons, more than a dozen half-marathons, and many 5K and 10K races.

Reviewed on March 21, 2018.

Topics: Performance
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