Sometimes, it can be hard to forego that deep gym burn, the guaranteed sweat and soreness, for the great outdoors; something that naturally feels less about results and more about fun.
But if Orange Theory kicked your butt last week and you need to reset, this is the perfect time to get out, chase the last of the warm sun and breathe in the beauty of the Fall.
Choose a path.
Do you know every trail and footpath in your neighbourhood? What about a little further afield?
The Fall is wonderful time to have an adventure. Put on your running shoes and explore the public footpaths as you raise that heart rate. You’ll find it so much more satisfying than running on a treadmill.
Learn to trust your body to take care of your workout while your mind focuses on getting lost and finding peace in the rhythm of your breath. Running can be an amazingly therapeutic experience. The abundance of stimulus that comes with a changing scene isn’t something that can be achieved naturally indoors and can be more effective at increasing your serotonin than staying inside. On top of this, the cool, refreshing climate of Fall will help your mind stay alert, focused and energized.
As the weather gets cooler, a good warm up becomes even more important.
Try incorporating your stretches into a short yoga style routine for the beginning, optional mid-point, and end of your run. Your muscles will thank you for putting some planning into a good warm up/ warm down instead of just throwing in a few stretches. This also gives your journey a destination and a goal to achieve other than just completing a circuit. There’s nothing more satisfying than finally reaching the top of that hill and feeling like you’re surveying your kingdom from a powerful Warrior 1. You can also use this time to really clear your mind.
If you do this at the half way point of your run, you will feel the next half work deeper into your muscles and your mind will have become more focused to boot.
This is a short yoga sequence that you can work in to your usual stretches, focusing on stretching and warming the legs, back and sides. It has been modified for the absence of a yoga mat outside:
Begin in Mountain Pose: standing straight, spine elongated. This is the beginning point of all poses. Inhale and reach your arms up above you. As you exhale, engage your abs and fold forward keeping your back straight. Tuck your chin into your chest, relax your shoulders and let your arms drop naturally to brush the ground. Shift your weight forward onto your toes and straighten your legs as much as you can. This is a Forward Fold.
Gently roll up to Mountain Pose again, bringing the arms straight up above your head. Cross your left ankle over the right and take hold of your left wrist with your right hand. Side bend at the hip, pushing your hips toward the left. You should feel a stretch all the day down your left side. Repeat on the other side.
From Mountain Pose, place your hands on your hips and lunge back with your left foot. Turn your left heel in slightly and lift your chest. Ideally your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and you should feel a stretch in your hips and down the inner thigh of your left leg. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes on your right foot. Lift your arms up, and press your palms together, squeezing the shoulder blades in. You should feel stretches in your abs and across your chest and shoulders. Then step back into mountain pose, lunge back with your right foot and do Warrior 1 on the other side.
Step back into Mountain Pose and repeat your Forward Fold, this time rolling down, vertebrae by vertebrae, stretching out your shoulder blades. Roll back up after a beat and step out your legs as wide as you can. Enjoy the stretch of your inner thighs. Drop your torso down and relax your shoulders, letting your arms hang. After a beat, take hold of your left ankle and bring your torso over your left leg, keeping your chest as close to your leg as possible. You should feel the stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for a few breaths then, staying low, swing round to your right leg and repeat the stretch there.
Then jump your legs together and shake it out. You’re ready to continue your run through those amazing Fall leaves!