Congratulations. You've made it through a winter of treadmill treks, stairclimber sessions, and weightlifting workouts under the glare of the gym's fluorescent lights. Now, it's time to make the switch from indoors to outdoors.
The trainers at Reebok University offer these tips for a smooth transition:
Warm up. A five-minute easy walk or run will help your body adjust more easily to the warmer temperatures and varying terrain, and prepare your muscles for stretching.
Stretch it out. Stretching can condition your joints for different environments and terrains by increasing your range of motion. It will also prepare the ligaments and tendons to support your joints- particularly the calves and shins, which are most vulnerable to injury on uneven outdoor surfaces. And remember to strengthen your ankles. Try this exercise: Stand with the balls of your feet on a step or curb, allowing your heels to drop below the step or curb. Then rise to the tips of your toes. Repeat 10 times.
"Clock" your path. Use a map or the odometer of your car to figure out how long your route is. Or select landmarks such trees, fire hydrants, or street signs and set goals to reach further distances each time you work out.
Walk before you run. It takes three to four times more effort to run outside than on a treadmill. So if you've been running indoors all winter, you might not be prepared to run the same distance outside. Take a step back and walk your first few days to get accustomed to the differences.
Take necessary precautions. Know where phones are along your route, and carry identification and enough money to make a call if you have to. Also, bring a supply of water if fountains aren't available. Drink at least three to four ounces for every 10 to 15 minutes of activity.