I discovered something about myself recently. I’m an outdoorsman. I love the outdoors.
And here’s the secret: I’m not a hiker. I hate canoeing. I can barely fish. I tried to light a charcoal grill the other day, and my girlfriend just started laughing at me.
But here’s what I’ve realized: The outdoors doesn’t mean far-off mountain ranges, scenic beaches or bluffs that hang majestically over rocky outcroppings (although those are pretty sweet). Outdoors means just that: out of doors.
It’s literally right outside your door.
I live in a city. A big, crowded, loud and oftentimes smelly city. And to boot, I can practically throw a paper airplane from the door of my apartment to the entrance of my gym, where world-class workout equipment awaits…
But I will argue that there is nothing better during the summer months than exercising in and enjoying the great outdoors that are right outside of your door. In Manhattan, my outdoor time is early Saturday morning. There’s no morning commute, and most people have usually been out partying on Friday night. So when I wake up to go for a run, it’s peaceful. The quiet, in contrast for once, is almost deafening. The streets are emptier. Sometimes you can even hear a lonely bird chirp. Wherever you live, try to find an area with trees, or at least tree-lined streets. If there’s water nearby, run alongside it. You’ll feel like you’ve left for the weekend.
Outdoors means just that: Out of doors.
You don’t need to go far to get that feeling, and therein lies the trick. Below are some quick and easy recommendations for creating a great outdoors exercise experience, wherever it is that you live.
Leave your phone at home. Don’t reply to text messages or emails for a couple of hours. I will be the first to admit to how difficult this can be, but there’s something very cathartic in feeling — even just for an hour — that if somebody wanted to get ahold of you, they couldn’t. Unless they had hired a PI to tail you, I suppose.
Listen to the people and places around you. I love running to music, but when I take my headphones out during a run and I can hear my your own thoughts, I get into a sort of inner dialogue with myself and have some of my best ideas. No, I’m not insane (I don’t think). I’m just saying try to “unplug” without actually going off the grid.
Bring your gym outside with you. It’s easier than you think to incorporate cross-training on your outdoor adventure. There are a ton of parks with monkey bars, basketball hoops, etc… You can do pullups on anything. You can do pushups, situps and planks anywhere there’s grass. I even use benches to do box jumps. Breaking up the monotony of your run with little cross-training sessions will not only be a better workout, it’ll make it more enjoyable.
Stretch while enjoying a view. I like to do this near a spot on the Hudson River that looks out on a pedestrian walkway. First of all, the people-watching is awesome. But it’s also a great opportunity to use a rail as support and cool down mentally and physically.
This summer I challenge you to find your time of the week when you “escape” from where you live, without ever actually leaving.
What part of the week is your Saturday morning? Whenever or wherever it is, carve out that time and place to be in the moment, and relish the great outdoors of your hometown — trust me, it’s there for the finding.