Running outdoors can be a breath of fresh air if you’re used to staying indoors on the treadmill. Whether you’re running in your neighborhood or meeting up with friends, stepping outside can add some variety to your routine.
But if you’re running on an asphalt road or a concrete sidewalk, there are certain things you should consider before lacing up. Pro Tips breaks down everything from road rules to the perks of a natural gait cycle.
CHOOSING YOUR RUNNING LOCATION
Where you’re going, you don’t need roads – or maybe you do. The benefit of running outdoors is that you have options with your surface. However, if you’re preparing for a race, consider training on the same type of surface as the course.
Some towns and parks have paved paths away from the bustle of traffic. Running on pavement paths can be nice if you want beautiful scenery. Running enthusiast and DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Emily Wolfarth considers this a better choice compared to running on trails where you could trip on sticks and uneven terrain.
Running on sidewalks can also provide an off-road alternative. However, you still should be cautious when crossing streets and poorly maintained walkways.
More than likely, running on roads and streets can be more convenient options. You won’t have to search for a path or sidewalk; simply step outside and hit the ground running. Of course, remember to stay diligent when running on these surfaces.
RUNNING ON ROAD RULES
Safety is always key no matter where you run. If your route doesn’t have a sidewalk and you’re forced to run on a street or road, keep these rules in mind to help keep you running safely.
- Run opposing traffic: “Run against traffic whenever you can,” says Wolfarth. This can help you see cars coming your way. Fellow DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate and endurance runner Kristie Johnson also suggests yielding to vehicles when necessary.
- Wear Reflective Clothing: Clothes with reflective detailing can help with visibility. This can include things from reflective vests, hats, shirts, shorts and shoes. Follow these Pro Tips to help you stay visible during a run.
- Be Hyperaware and Diligent: Johnson says she keeps her headphones on lower volume or even off to help her stay better aware of her surroundings. Furthermore, Wolfarth suggests being over-observant. Be alert for vehicles, other people, animals and any other obstacle you may come across.
TAKING ON THE WEATHER
While some may consider the weather a potential downfall to running outside, Johnson disagrees. “I’ll take running outside any day – windy, rainy, snowy, cool or warm days are just part of the challenge,” she says.
Johnson also says training in different weather conditions can help get you ready for your next race. Race-day weather can be unpredictable, so prepare by training in the elements.
Make sure to look up your local weather forecast and be prepared for your run. For help running in the elements, check out these Pro Tips guides:
- For those soggy days, read Tips for Running in the Rain.
- For runs that get chilly, find out How to Dress for Winter Running Success.
- For days when the temps are up, check out Tips for Running in the Heat.
NATURAL GAIT CYCLE
The uneven surfaces of trails or the moving belt of a treadmill don’t always allow for your true natural gait cycle. However, even surfaces have their perks, as they can promote a more natural stride and help analyze your true gait.
Johnson says running on pavement can help get your body used to balancing. “It should create more even muscle building,” she says.
Running on the road can also help with gait analysis. This can help find a running shoe that’s right for you.
“I think you can push yourself to run at your best pace and natural gait cycle on the road because it’s a flat, even surface,” says Wolfarth.
Finding the right running shoe can make a world of difference. For more tips on finding your gait cycle, follow these Pro Tips.
Escaping the indoors for a run outside can be a nice change of pace. The next time you lace up for your outdoor adventure, make sure to use these Pro Tips for guidance.
If you’re a fan of running outside for the scenery and escaping the treadmill, you may also like trail running. Find out all you need to know before you hit the trail with our Pro Tips Trail Running Guide.