Run on the grass whenever possible. If I’m on the boardwalk I’ll run on the dirt/grass beside the concrete path. Grass is much easier on the joints. It absorbs the shock even better than my Asics gel sneakers. After running on the pavement, you will feel it in your knees and hips. Not in the “hurt so good” way either.
Hills are your friend. Uphill anyway! Downhill = Shinsplints. Uphill = Strong legs and butt. The proper way to run hills is to lean in to them and shorten your stride. When you reach the top, you should soar over it and pick up the pace again. If you get to the top and have to crawl home, you may need to start with a smaller hill!
Push yourself a little farther. When you start to feel the need for a walking break, look ahead of you and pick an object. It could be a bus stop, an intersection or anything really. Just pick a spot that you can aim to reach before breaking. This technique helps you to push yourself just a little harder so you can improve. If you stop whenever you feel like it, you will always get tired at a certain point and never break your energy plateau.
Take the stairs. Try to add some stairs in to your runs. In, one of my routes, I have found THREE big staircases to climb along the way. Stairs add to your workout. They elevate your heart rate and they work muscles differently in your lower bod. Remember to climb stairs with your whole foot on, pressing off from your heels, for maximum benefits. I remember when I ran The Toronto Zoo 10k there was a big flight of stairs mid-way through the run. Everybody was groaning and gasping. Not me! I knew I could do it, no problemo! If anything I found it to be a nice break after having run for so long already.
Stretch after your run. The difference between outdoor running and a treadmill is like night and day! On the electric treadmill you are just playing keep up. Outside your body is using all of it’s power to propel itself forward. You feel everything! After my run this morning my muscles were stiff almost immediately! I probably should have started with the 3 mile route instead of the 6 but what can I say? I was too excited!
Enjoy. Don’t feel bad about stopping your run mid-way through to relax and take in the sights of nature around you. If I run to the beach I go to the lake, just to feel the breeze for a few minutes. If I run through a forest, I like to explore a bit, to look for wildlife. A huge bonus to outdoor activities is that you get the scenery. So enjoy the little things in life that make you happy and you will look forward to your next run even more!