Written by Jack Boardman
As the clocks change and there is more time for outdoor exercise in the evenings, now is the time to get to know your surroundings so that you can make the most of them. For that matter, whether you work out during the morning, afternoon or evening, the summer weather means the potential for outdoor exercise could see you training outdoors instead of confined to a gym – UK weather permitting, that is.
If you’re getting your cardio in the city, be mindful of populated areas. Streets with shops and beer gardens are bound to be busy when the sun is out, so it’s a good idea to plan your route around them as you can expect constant traffic during the day (and especially at peak hours) that will make the roads off limits.
This brings us to another factor to consider: time of day. Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, among many other greats, would get up while it was still dark so that they could run outdoors, knowing that there would be no traffic. You don’t have to be training for a championship belt to know that in the suburbs and city, you’ll get your best-uninterrupted run on the roads before and after peak traffic times.
Think outside the box. Going beyond running and cycling, you can essentially turn the great outdoors into your very own circuit training. Free running in the city, anyone? Well, maybe you don’t have to go to such extremes as that, but you could draw on that as inspiration and be on the lookout for a grassy knoll here and there for some abs work, stretching or press-ups, maybe a low wall for dips or gymnastic-type obstacles, or maybe tree boughs or scaffolding from chin-ups and muscle-ups.
The terrain is something else you might consider when planning your route. This one may apply more to natural terrain when running in more rural areas or the seafront. If you have the option, there are many advantages to the resistance training of running barefoot on flat wet sand.
Elsewhere in wooded areas, muddy paths require a bit of agility training (which is good for your core and the smaller muscles around your knees) but would not be as good for speed and cardio training when you have to slow down for it. Therefore, if it’s speed or interval training you’re going for, keep in mind where the flat dry paths are. This doesn’t just apply to rural running. In the city, on the tarmac, there is potholes, kerbs and litter to contend with.
Safety first. When exercising outdoors it’s important you can do so confidently with minimal risks to your safety.
Buddy up. Whether you’re running in the city, cycling in the woods or hiking in the hills, doing so with a partner or group will not only mean that you have someone at your side and a second pair of eyes on the lookout for any inherent risks, but it can also see considerable boosts to your motivation. There’s the competitive element and also the pacemaker that sees you don’t slow your role too much – something that you may well do without the use of programmed machines that you would be using at the indoors gym.