Run Better All Summer

Summer's almost here - so get off that treadmill and head for the great outdoors. "There is nothing better than fresh air, and the new sights and sounds you get from running outside," says running coach Liz Fulford (fitnesstrainingspecialists.co.uk).

"You will also become a stronger runner: working out on varying terrain and uneven surfaces strengthens muscles and tendons." Here's how to make the break.

Run/Walk

If you've only ever run in the gym, your first outdoor session may be tricky. "Treadmills help you run because the machine provides forward motion," says coach Jeff Galloway (jeffgalloway.com).

Running on varied terrain is more demanding: begin easy, with one run-walk session a week. "If you can run 30 minutes on the treadmill, when you head out, run one minute and walk one minute for half an hour," says Galloway. The next week, increase your run/walk ratio to 2:1 and continue building it at a comfortable rate. 

Plan Your Route

While you adjust to running outside, reward yourself by taking an interesting route. "This reduces boredom and helps you keep going," says Fulford. "You get a sense of actually running to get somewhere, rather than just waiting to hit the stop button once your time's up." You can use a mapping website, such as mapmyrun.com, to work out the distance you've covered.

Mark Your Territory

You may need to take more frequent breaks while you adjust to running outside. Fulford suggests that you plan for this and use landmarks, such as benches or lamp posts, to divide your route into manageable chunks. Think about any particularly challenging spots on your route, and what role the weather might play: "If it's windy, run against the wind initially," Fulford says. "Then on your return, when you're tired, you'll get a boost from having it behind you."

Hill Power

Ready to step up to a new challenge? Tweak your route so it includes one or two gentle inclines. Running uphill strengthens your quads and glutes, while haring back down teaches you to control your form at even at faster paces. "Chose a route where the hills are a few miles into the run," says Fulford. "That way you will be warmed up before you have to face them." 


This article is taken from our June 2010 issue, available on the newsstand now. Also in this issue: the mental secret to effortless running, 10 everyday foods that heal you, how gadgets can make you a better runner and four foolproof pacing sessions to get you off to the best possible start.