Monday, February 25, 2013

The YEEHAW of Outdoor Training Keeps me Coming Back For More

"Those who exercised outside exercised longer and more often
than those working out indoors

Ummm. Duh.

That was one of the recent research results summarized by Gretchen Reynolds in "The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors" for The Well at the New York Times on February 21. I read that piece and was just thinking YEAH and exactly who is surprised by that?? Are you at all surprised? Maybe the people who I see running inside on our tiny gym track when it's perfect running weather outside would be surprised.

When I ride or run outside and have the opportunity, it inevitably ends up longer than what is planned. Yesterday's 42 mile ride? 47. Who wants to turn around exactly at mile 21 when there could be something interesting over the crest of the next hill? (Disclaimer: I have a sense now of when/which workouts and by how much I can "go over" without violating the intent of the coach-planned workout. That "sense" was developed for me by getting called out for it the first few years.)

Anyway, by way of comparison, if I've got a 50 minute bike trainer session? 50:00...DONE! Not one second more!

Time goes by so much faster outside. We are away from the things that mark time through a beep or chime or flash. Thoughts drift and the brain is left to creative tasks or to problems in need of a solution. The sun, fresh air, and freedom are a reminder of our own smallness out in the world.

A few days ago I had a conversation with my son about having passion for a sport. I felt this surge of excitement rising as I described how great it felt to finish a long bike ride or go out and nail a tough run in challenging conditions like a 35 degree rain. Then I looked at him and said I would never get that YEEHAW feeling from grinding out time on an elliptical in the gym six days a week. It's the YEEHAW that keeps me coming back for more. The YEEHAW comes mainly from training outside, from the natural adversary found in miles of varied terrain, and from submitting to whatever Mother Nature has in store.

It's the unknown, the adventure, and the unpredictability that makes outdoor training so exciting and rewarding

You can't wrangle cows or run through town dressed as an elf or pedal your way to an Expo in the next town or swim in a city harbor or race rabbits or see a gorgeous sunrise from the inside of a gym.

I'm not saying there isn't a time or place for indoor training, but it's the outside stuff that gives me that YEEHAW and keeps me coming back for more.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! (Dr. Seuss)

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go....