10 Reasons to run/cycle outdoors rather than at the gym

I have recently got into doing more outdoor cardio.

I have found myself a number of times sitting/standing in a fixed position looking at:

  1. Mirror image of myself
  2. Uninspiring motivational poster/advert
  3. Boring view of the gym car park

This was all something that made gym cardio really tedious, hardwork.  This resulted in a significant reduction in doing cardio.  Here are 10 things I thought of (while cycling outside incidentally).

The Views

You can run/cycle round your local neighbourhood or drive out to somewhere and experience the views.  Today I was out running and saw a nice looking church, so I ran towards it to investigate. Much better than watching an antiques show on one of the treadmills TV channels.

No queues

Ever been in a gym on rush hour?  Its impossible to get a treadmill because there is some idiot doing an hour of uphill walking.  I don’t have to queue to get outside.

Fresh Air

As you cycle next to the guy in the gym who stinks of stale sweat because he only washes his kit once a week, I had the sensation of the English air rushing through my lungs and helping to clear out a lingering cold.

Navigation/Learn the neighbourhood

I moved to my new house in September last year.  Because I was unfamiliar with the area, the only place I knew where I was going was to work.  Once I started running and cycling around I would go down roads that I had no idea where it led.  This resulted in finding a number of shortcuts and new places that I would not even know existed.

The Elements Test

There is nothing more invigorating than doing cardio in less than ideal weather.  I have been running in the rain and felt like I was having a refreshing shower.  Colder weather makes cardio harder and you burn more calories.

If you race it is a good idea to get the feel as it won’t always be a sunny, non-windy day.

Lose track of time

The problem with gym cardio is you set yourself a time, plug your earphones in and hope that it passes down the time on that clock.  When you go out down side streets it is really easy to forget yourself and soon you realise you’ve been out for an hour.

You’re likely to push yourself more

On the bike I feel a car behind me – I imagine the driver getting impatient, so I make the effort to pedal faster.

I am out running and suddenly I come across a hill, I fight my way up it.  Later I start descending down hill, although this is easier I am presented with new challenges as my body is worked in different ways.

However at the gym I get on the treadmill, set the gradient to 1% and speed to 10km.  I did plan to alternate the speed and gradient during my 20 minutes, but my mind drifted off.

Helps the imagination

Although fitness helps with imagination, there is something about seeing scenery and various people you wiz pass that helps with inspiration.  I have to admit I have more interesting stories about going for a run than I ever did on a treadmill.

It is more natural

The Earth is uneven and not flat like a treadmill, humidity is not gym air conditioning and its a lot more motivating to go faster to get home because its started pissing it down.

It bring out an endurance you never realised you had

Everyday I used to cycle an 8 mile round trip to work.  It wasn’t far, but on the way home there was a hill that was very steep.  The first few times I cycled it I had to stop and push it up the hill, gradually getting further each time.

The first time I made it all the way to the top I was euphoric, but it gave me a whole new challenge – continuing to cycle without doing all that.

That same year I started obstacle racing and at the time I wasn’t doing much running.  But the endurance powered me right to the end with a good time.


Those are some reasons I thought of.  Anyone have any other suggestions?

wantitmore2

(I never have had a sensation like that at the gym….)

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9 thoughts on “10 Reasons to run/cycle outdoors rather than at the gym

  1. This is so true! I signed up for a 5k and I was doing great time & speed at the gym on the treadmill. My fiance told me hey you know running at the gym and outdoors is different, right? I was like whatever man. When I got to that 5k I was like what this is NOTHING like the gym H E L P meee!!!! He laughed and I barely made it through the 5k I struggled. Lesson learned a controlled environment and a unknown bumps and un-leveled ground are different. Thanks for this post !!

    1. Thanks. And yes it is really different – I always remember the first time I went running outside after doing 30 minute runs on the treadmill. It was a freezing winters day and I got about 500 m before I started a coughing fit from all the cold air in my lungs!

  2. great thoughts, james. i was never the biggest runner in the world, but in boracay, along the shore, i sure found new appreciation for it. but inside the gym on a treadmill, jesus i get bored to tears.

      1. i like your approach to your fitness. raw and outdoors. it is very manly. it is what i miss most about training in legacy, too. the environment is fantastic. in the city, it is just not the same. hard to be as motivated tbh, sucks.

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