Joanna Hall: Outdoor running

I ran on a treadmill all winter, but now that I’m running outside, it seems much harder, although I sweat less. Is it harder, or am I losing my fitness?

Running outside does tend to be harder for several reasons. Even if you are running at the same pace inside and out, the treadmill’s conveyor belt propels you forward, reducing the amount of energy you require. Outdoor terrain is rarely as flat as a treadmill, so when running on one, keep the incline at 1% to simulate an outdoor environment. You also have to deal with air resistance outdoors. If running on a windy day, start by heading into the wind and enjoy the assistance of the wind behind you on the home leg. Air resistance also cools the perspiration on your skin, so you may think you are sweating less.

So, with respect to your fitness level – don’t panic. As long as you are progressing (ie, increasing the intensity and variety of your training every four to six weeks), you should not experience a reduction in fitness levels. Running for longer, changing your route to incorporate hills and introducing speed intervals are all ways to increase intensity.

Adding variety with different forms of cardio such as cycling, Rollerblading, canoeing and swimming can also prevent boredom and injuries, and also provide an important stimulus to different muscle groups, as well as to your heart and lungs.

Last, many people tend to go at an easier pace on the treadmill than when they’re pounding the pavement. I definitely run faster on my winter evening runs, but then again, I always was afraid of the dark.

· Joanna Hall is a fitness expert ( Send your exercise questions to Weekend, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER ([email protected]).

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