My apologies for the tardiness of this post...its getting to be that point of the semester when many large papers are due, so the next month may be more sparse for new posts. I'll let you blame my teachers too.
A couple of months ago I created a post on checking out gyms before buying membership. Well, here would be the first place to go - outdoors! Not only is it free, its also a great way to utilize nature's (or your city's) beautiful scenery. The money that can be spent on a year gym membership can be quite extravagant, and the machines also use a lot of energy to help you do something people can do out in the real world - walk, run, or bicycling. Now I understand gyms have many other uses, like strength training and other valuable equipment, but many people do go to gyms to simply use the treadmill or exercise bike. I personally found myself at gyms for a few reasons: a) cold weather/time of day, b) the ability to control pace and distance with a machine, and c) the personal safety of a gym. For me, a and b have been resolved, but the security of a gym environment in comparison to running outdoors can be a challenge, especially for women. I think the key is to be smart about it - Don't run in the dark, stay on routes with heavier "traffic" (i.e. more publicly used areas), and don't run the same route all of the time. [However, as a side note, I also think this is an illusion that can be created in our mind. A gym can be just as a dangerous place as running routes in your city or town, don't be fooled.]
Anyways, about a month ago, I was planning to start doing some marathon training outside, but I was left very frustrated with methods of measuring the distance of runs. I didn't have the money to afford a fancy GPS running watch, which can track your routes, and I was finding difficulty calibrating my iPod Touch with Nike+ program (i.e. a type of accelerometer mechanism). After much time spent on the internet scoping out potential tools to help me figure out the distance of my runs, I came across a website that utilizes Google Maps to help you figure out your mileage. All you have to do is click points that follow your route on the map to start. Using the satellite view, I was even able to calculate off road routes, like my local dog park. Its available at Run.com, and its been an absolute god-send for me to keep me running outside. If you are looking for a better way to document your routes rather than just driving them with your car to use the odometer first, please give this website a try, a great resource to getting more runners outside. You can also see routes people have documented doing in your area!
Even if you aren't into the whole exercise thing - now is the time to start getting outside to absorb some vitamin D from the sun! Enjoy what the outdoors can bring to you or your family.