I have never really enjoyed running and the thought of outdoor running, once upon a time, made me feel physically sick. Running, non-stop through all sorts of terrain and all sorts of weather? Not happening. But, after starting to run outdoors, I can’t believe I have put it off for so long.
When I first started training for my half marathon at the end of last year I ran on a treadmill during every gym session. Short bursts soon became 3k runs on the treadmill and finally I worked my way up to my first treadmill 5k. Treadmill running was tough enough – I didn’t fancy adding any more challenges to my running so stuck to the machines during the lead up to Christmas.
But it was when I was given my new Nike iD trainers at Christmas that I suddenly felt differently. Firstly. I had just decided to run a half marathon for charity so there was no getting around the fact that I would eventually have to run outdoors. And I also thought the trainers deserved to be ran in outside – they were so pretty, it seemed a shame to subject them to a sweaty treadmill a few times a week.
It wasn’t like I was a complete newbie to outdoor running either – I had attempted it at uni with a friend but I had never been able to get further than a mile. And that is why I have always avoided running – I felt defeated for not being able to travel far. But the whole ‘couch to 5k’ approach has definitely helped me with my outdoor running and fitness in general. I knew that, even if I ran for a few minutes at a time, getting outside was the first step and the longer runs and stamina would eventually come. I suddenly realised that it didn’t matter how fast I went or how frequently I dropped down to walking pace – as long as I got outdoors and got to the ‘finish line’ (sometimes a pub) that is all that mattered!
And I am so glad I made the decision to start running outdoors because it’s totally changed my fitness regime. I rarely run in the gym now because I find staring at a white wall quite depressing. I’m not quite sure how I did it for so long when there are so many more interesting things to see outside.
My runs take me all over the place now – the beach, the forest, town centres… I am still not a ‘runner’ really. I have a lot of walk breaks, my pace is certainly not at competition level and I am still working on my technique. But I now realise why so many people love running outdoors.
It’s a chance to get outside, to get some fresh air and to clear your mind. If you want to de-stress you can run at a high pace, through rocky terrain listening to high-tempo stuff. But if you fancy a slow jog at sunset whilst listening to Ben Howard, that’s OK too. Running suits anyone and everyone and you can go at the pace you enjoy. Running outdoors has definitely improved my fitness levels too – I have found it a lot tougher than treadmill running. But I’ve seen so many nice views and I know that every time I step out of the front door, the run is going to be different. And that is what has made me think, for the first time ever, that running can actually be quite exciting.