For the first time since I started running two months ago, I ran outside on Thursday. It was a beautiful day and I knew that with three 5k races coming up this summer, I needed to transition my running outdoors at some point. When I first started, the weather wasn’t ideal so I ran at the gym that’s only a short walk from my apartment building. I was surprised to find that I actually like running on a treadmill. With a constant reminder in front of me of my current speed, distance, and time, it was easy for me to motivate myself to hit certain milestones. And so far my running has been very successful – each time I’ve run I’ve increased my pace to the point that I’m now running a mile and a half 5 minutes faster than when I started, and I’m running a 5k 7 minutes faster. I’m still embarrassingly slow by runners’ standards but these huge improvements give me faith that maybe one day I’ll be able to run a mile at a pace that’s not too embarrassing to post! 🙂
I noticed some positives and negatives with my first outdoor run. First, the neighborhood I live in is incredibly hilly so the first half of my two mile run is a pretty constant medium-grade uphill and then the second half is a very steep downhill with very little flat portions in between. Man is running (well let’s be honest – walking) uphill difficult! This pattern meant that a good portion of my “run” was spent walking – but I finished the two miles on about the same pace as I’ve been running on the treadmill. Of course, that’s an estimate based on my rough calculations since I don’t run with a GPS. I calculated my route ahead of time using http://www.mapmyrun.com (2.1 miles approximately) and just glanced at the time on my iPhone at the start and finish. So I figure this means that I’m either running/walking faster outside than I do on the treadmill (it’s hard to tell without a MPH tracker hovering right in front of my face) or that the downhill portion is helping me out a lot and balancing out the time I spent walking uphill. I’m just not sure which and I don’t like the uncertainty.
During the run, I was convinced that I like running on a treadmill better. But I was worried that meant I would never be the kind of runner who would run races. I know, all this worry during my first run outdoors means I probably need to calm down a little bit. But after I finished the run and noticed that I stayed approximately on pace – I’m not so sure. There were a few things that I did love about running outside like being out in the sunshine on a beautiful day and I think it was a much better workout than the treadmill. My legs were burning when I got home (which I love!) so those uphills definitely did their job! And it turns out my fear of the sidewalks/curbs/random sticks was unfounded as I did not – as I feared – trip and fall on my face.
So I guess my final verdict on running outside is that I’m going to keep working it in to at least one, if not more, of my weekly runs and see what happens. And I may need to adjust my route so I’m not
running walking straight uphill for a mile. All that time spent walking just feels so depressing. And I think investing in a Garmin watch would help with my issues of tracking distance/speed/pace.
For the other runners out there:
What is your opinion on treadmill versus outdoor running?
What do you use to map out your runs?
Do you have a Garmin or other device to track your runs?