I switched to running outside from running in the gym when my boyfriend lost his job and we needed the cash. I discovered running outside (ME! Outside-phobic ME!) and never looked back. Yeah, there’re squished animals on the roads (RIP guys) and people honk their horns at you, but it has waaay more perks than the gym, which I’ve conveniently listed below. You’re welcome.
1. It’s free
This is the only main reason I started running. I already had a crappy pair of trainers and a sports bra – I wouldn’t recommend investing in anything more unless you get serious about it/win the lottery. You also don’t need to upgrade your equipment to run better (apart from by maybe eating more healthily), unlike say, cycling or skiing.
2. You can do it alone
Or in groups. It’s entirely up to you. Whatever you feel like, flower. I run alone most of the time, but occasionally my brother and I go together. He’s much better than me and spurs me on (because I want to beat him, not because he’s particularly encouraging). I feel like a child again, running along the road wailing ‘Maaaattheeeew, wait for meeeee. You’re going too faaaast.’
3. It’s less judgey than the gym
It may all be in my head, but I always feel so awkward in the gym, especially when I’m out of breath on the treadmill and have to slow to a walk after two five minutes. If you run outside you can pretend you had to stop to cross the road (then conveniently change your mind), or look at a particularly striking bird. Sometimes I just get my phone out and look at it intently with a furrowed brow. No one need know that your legs are about to drop off and your lungs have exploded.
4. You can be a fair weather runner
I don’t run when it’s raining. Or windy. Or the sun’s in my eyes. IT’S DANGEROUS. It would be RECKLESS to go. It would be unfair on my mother to risk my life in such a way. Better stay home and think about doing some weights.
5. It’s always open
Early, late, last thing on a Sunday afternoon. They never close outside. It doesn’t judge you for wanting to run at 5.30am (I do though), or at midnight.
6. It doesn’t smell of BO
Most of the time anyway. I hate the gym-smell. Air-freshener-to-cover-BO-stench to me is just as vomit-inducing as BO.
7. It’s more efficient
You burn up to 10% more calories running outside, than in the gym. In a nutshell, this because our body is really fucking obsessed with homeostasis, i.e. keeping everything (especially temperature) regulated. In the gym, the temperature is, well, room temperature, whereas outside your body has to work that bit harder to either warm it up or cool it down. The less even terrain also makes for a more calorific burn.
8. You’ll go further
My main issue with the treadmill is caused by my own lack of stamina and excessive reserves of laziness – I used to stop after about five minutes. When I’m outside running though, if I get fed up I at least have to run another five minutes to get home. I know proper running people recommend mixing your route up, but I find that always running the same route makes it less likely that I’ll turn round after ten minutes. I also like that it’s on a main road (more witnesses if I happen to get murdered) and there’s a path (less likely to hit by car).
9. It’s easier to push yourself
I like sprinting. I’m good at it. I’m like a greyhound- one crazy loop around the field then I’m ready to curl up in front of the fire for the rest of the day. On a treadmill, it’s a real ball-ache to set the treadmill up to sprint and then have to frantically dial it back down without you either falling flat on your face or pulling a muscle. When you’re outside…you can just go. Tis freeing.
10. Even a bad run is still a workout
So, you ran for two minutes, got a stitch and walked for twenty minutes. So what? Walking is fabulous exercise. You saw pretty butterflies, got some fresh air, and got some serious thinking in. There’s no shame there, friend. In the gym though, if you’re not feeling it, you just go home.
So there we go, my top ten reason why running outside is the best. If you have any to add, pop them in the comments and I’ll update the post (you’ll get credit, promise). BTW, I don’t hate gyms – I actually love the little cones of water and all the mysterious machines, I just don’t want people to dive right in to a gym membership if all they they need is a great cardio workout. When I’m rich though, I’m going to get a home gym. We’re building one up slowly at the mo – i.e. we have a skipping rope and THIS MONSTER (it’s a kettlebell, I’m not gonna make you click the link if you don’t want to). I really want a treadmill, though but I feel that if you don’t spend the money on a really good one
, you’ll end up with a reeeally noisy one, and I’m just not in a position to buy one
in the next twenty years at the moment.
I forgot another great reason running outside is awesome. Here we have bonus number eleven:
11. You can have a shower in your own house
I never used the gym showers anyway, but there’s something about diving straight into the shower after a run when you’re still sweaty that just feels so damn good. Seriously – it’s worth going for a run just for that. It’s especially good after a run on a really cold day (we have a lot of those in Yorkshire), because you don’t cool down and get chilly – you can go straight from run to shower to cosy pjs.
I hope this has encouraged someone (ANYONE) to grab their manky old trainers and go for a run. Just try it. If you’re self-conscious, walk your route first. It’ll be swell.