Hitting the Streets to Exercise

It seems like just yesterday I was writing about a change to my cardio routine. I noted that I was departing a bit from my indoor track workout and mixing in sessions on the treadmill a couple times a week. But since January I have added a new wrinkle to my running regime: I am starting to run outside.

When Sidney gave birth to Sloan, I was able to enjoy a week off with them at home. I didn’t hit the gym during this time but I did do something to get my blood pumping. Each morning I would briefly escape and run around the neighborhood for 15 minutes. I would venture out on a course I mapped out that measured in at a little over two miles. It was a nice change of pace (pun intended).

In my opinion, running outside is in some ways easier and in some ways harder than running inside on a track or a treadmill. When you have scenery to admire as you run, it takes some of the monotony out of your workout. You do tend to forget to a degree the stress of the run and you focus more on what is going on around you. Taking note of people’s pretty lawns, watching neighbors start their cars, jetting past kids waiting for the bus, and soaking in the natural fresh air give you some diversion from the fact that your heart is beating out of your chest.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that running outside does have its drawbacks. When you are inside, the elements are controlled. When I walk outside my house and begin my trot, I don’t know what I am going to face. Granted, I do live in Myrtle Beach and normally the weather is excellent. But there is always some presence of a wind and if you are running against it, you are definitely exerting more energy (and feeling it too!) than if you were at a gym. Even the humidity here in our part of the country, just at small levels, will zap your energy. Besides the weather, the whole running on pavement thing isn’t ideal either. It doesn’t do our feet any favors when we stomp them on asphalt or cement, something that I am reminded of when I wake up the next day and have that trace of soreness.

But when it comes down to it, I enjoy the benefits of running outside more than the drawbacks. Why? For me, I think it is about community. When I am exhibiting my less-than-stellar running form for all to see in my Carolina Forest neighborhood, I do feel a little more connected to those who live around me. To be honest, I am not the neighbor who goes door to door introducing myself to everyone. Thus, when I run, it gives me a more comfortable way to feel in touch with where I live.

Although I am not home on paternity leave anymore, I still try to run in the neighborhood. This morning I hit the streets because the gym was closed. On weekends when I have indulged in junk food a little too much I try to atone for it by going for a run. Best of all, I now have the sense that even if I can’t get to the gym I have a great option for cardio right outside my door. Now I just need to start pushing myself to run harder and longer. Don’t Blink.

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