This is the time of year when most people decide to move their fitness routine indoors, but not me.
Yes, I run outside all year round, and yes, I’ve been called crazy more than once (in fact, ironically just today) for bundling up and braving the elements, or venturing out in the dark with my reflective vest and trusty headlamp.
But is it crazy? Is it really? In comparison to running in place; watching whatever channel the person who arrived before you chose; inhaling recirculated air heavy with other people’s perspiration; and carrying around a towel, not just to wipe your overheated brow, but to hide the excruciating amount of time and distance you’ve got left on the treadmill dashboard?
Personally, I think it’s crazy not to run outside, especially when you consider all the positives:
n Fresh air. Breathing fresh air has been proven to provide a host of health benefits including helping you get better sleep, keeping your lungs healthy and even improving your mood.
n A better workout. I know lots of people who’ve trained on a treadmill all winter only to transition outside in the spring and wonder why their pace is so much slower. While no doubt better for your joints, running on a treadmill puts a spring in your step – literally. Outside, the ground doesn’t give you that little extra bouncy boost. It’s up to your muscle strength to push off the ground and propel yourself forward, ensuring you are putting in all the hard work without any help from below.
n You don’t have to bare your legs. Not that I really care what others think, but let’s face it, no one particularly enjoys to put on shorts in the middle of winter. I for one am more than happy to keep my pale, dry, winter legs under the cover of running tights that hide holiday pounds and the fact that you haven’t shaven in weeks.
n Beautiful surroundings. Sorry, 20-year-old toned girls and muscle-flexing guys at the gym, but my idea of being surrounded by beauty is running down a trail lined with trees that are covered with vibrant-colored leaves or branches perfectly outlined with freshly fallen snow. You don’t see deer, owls and other wildlife at the gym, unless the TV show you’re stuck watching is the Nature Channel, but that doesn’t really count.
n A greater sense of accomplishment. Sure, you should feel proud to fit in your workout no matter where it takes place, but there’s something about taking on whatever Mother Nature has to dish out that gives you a sense of strength and perseverance that you just can’t get running in place. Yes, there are times when Mother Nature outmuscles me and I reluctantly cry “Uncle” and opt for weights or yoga, or even the “dread-mill” – and sometimes even the couch. But, more often than not, I combat the temptation to give in with a single statement that’s motivated me for years: “I won’t regret it.”
I have kicked myself for not running plenty of times, but I have never, not once ever, regretted going for a run. No matter if I didn’t feel so great or the weather conditions were atrocious, I’ve always finished my run feeling happy I did it.
So, you can call me crazy all you want, but if you spot me in a gym somewhere this winter, know that it is an extremely rare occasion. Because it is far more likely that you’ll see me bundled up, trudging through the snow with my reflective vest and trusty headlamp. I’ll be taking in not only fresh air and beautiful scenery, but also a feeling of empowerment as I respectfully laugh in the face of Mother Nature with every wet, soggy, difficult step I take toward home. And that’s where I will, with absolutely no regrets, jump in a hot shower during which I will have no reason whatsoever to shave my legs.
Not so crazy after all, now is it?