Transitioning From Indoor to Outdoor Exercise

Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Exercise

Spring is in full swing, and you are now starting to shift your focus from the treadmill stationary bike to outdoor exercise options. As tempting as it is to lace up your new shoes or fill those tires, there are some things to keep in mind while making the transition, and avoiding injury.

Let’s start with running. It’s been a cold and long winter, and you are itching to hit the pavement. It might seem like an awesome idea to push yourself or see how long you can go on that first nice day, but that usually spells trouble, and possibly causing injury. Treadmill running offers a safe and controlled environment, and consistent movement patterns, whereas outside running is a changing environment.

Keep in mind these few things as you transition to outdoor exercise. Start with short runs outside. Don’t start with your long run of the week. Start with your shorter, mid-week runs and build up to your long runs outside, or if you just can’t resist, do a portion of your long run outside and the rest on the treadmill, it doesn’t matter what order! Keep in mind the changing terrain. Treadmills offer a smooth consistent surface, whereas outside, you are constantly adapting to grade, pitch and uneven surfaces. Also, the impact on your body is greater than that of the treadmill. Also keep in mind that paces don’t always match up. A 10 min pace on the treadmill does not necessarily mean a 10 min pace outside, since you are dealing with things such as changing surfaces, temperature and winds. It also wouldn’t hurt to have your new running shoes broken in before moving outside!

Also, Spring still can be a little chilly, so be sure to dress for the weather. You should be dressed for about 10 degrees warmer, and don’t forget your hydration. Just because you don’t feel the sweat streaming down your face, doesn’t mean you’re not sweating or losing fluids.

After the long winter months, you finally can bring your two-wheeled friend out from the basement or garage and onto the road. You have spent the last couple months in a cycling studio or on your trainer, building your endurance, waiting for the first warm and dry spring day to take your bike out. Whether you are on your trainer or a spin bike, you have developed an aerobic base, helping to make the transition easier. If you haven’t been indoor riding, your first couple rides may be challenging.

Outdoor exercise brings on a few concerns and things to consider. Similar to running, your first ride(s) shouldn’t be to see how long or fast you can go, or how far you can push. Build your outdoor miles moderately, especially if you haven’t been riding. Nearly all riders can expect some positional issues. If you were on a spin bike, your bike saddle, fit, bars are all different, thus putting your body in different positions, possibly leaving you to feel it in your sit bones, shoulders, and neck. Even if you are on a trainer, adapting to the bumpiness of the road will cause some muscles to work harder, potentially causing discomfort.

Lastly, consider new tubes in your tires, check your helmet, shoes, and components of your bike, shifting, and brakes. Still dress for the weather, and stay hydrated. Be aware of road conditions, whether wet or dry, you may have some obstacles and potholes to dodge, and be aware of excess salt/sand on the roads that may affect your handling. Also, as much as you enjoyed your favorite tunes while training indoors, leave your earbuds home, and be aware of drivers, as in early spring, drivers are not accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road.

Have a happy and safe transition into your spring and summertime training!


By Melissa Radmer, Group Exercise & Fitness Director at Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield

Melissa Radmer of Elite Sports Clubs

Melissa Radmer has been a part of the Elite Sports Clubs team since 2002 and is now the Fitness & Group Exercise Director at the West Brookfield location. She holds a BS in Exercise Physiology and Exercise Leadership, as well as certifications as a personal trainer, Les Mills instructor, spinning, zumba, pilates and gravity training. She has a passion for multi-sport and endurance events, including half-marathons, triathlons, and the infamous Tough Mudder. Her main areas of focus are sports performance training, cardiovascular programming, and post-injury training.


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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

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