Real Portlandians Run Outdoors

Running outside is about appreciating where you live and embracing it. Running inside is about hiding from where you live. Forest Park, Willamette River Esplanade, Mt. Tabor and many other parks around Portland—these places are your friend if you run.

I think of wasted opportunities whenever I see people on treadmills here in my hometown. So many lost opportunities to explore, to engage, and to enjoy the nature that Oregon is known for. Running on a treadmill is as monotonous as watching someone run on a treadmill.

Whether you do it for weight loss, cardiovascular health, stress reduction, fun, or another reason, doing it outside will enhance the experience. Running in the brisk cold has an amazing way of numbing you while simultaneously heightening your senses; it reminds you of the fragility of the cozy world we live in and brings us back to the reality and brutality of what’s outside our walls. Running in the cold makes us feel badass.

Yes, it does rain regularly here, which is the most common argument for why someone might be on a treadmill. But frequency in use of an argument does not mean that it is a good one. For your sake, hop off and get outside. You might now be thinking, “easy for you to say, Leif, you’re probably a fan of the rain.” On the contrary, I don’t like it one bit. But running isn’t about being comfortable—it’s about bettering yourself. And putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is a great way to do that. All it takes is five minutes to warm up and realize that you aren’t as negatively affected by it as you thought you’d be. This is when growth occurs—when you experience something that is contrary to a thought you previously held.

Finally, just because it rains a lot here doesn’t mean you even have to run in the rain (hint: weather app). And if the weather app happens to be incorrect and it does in fact rain while you are out there, well, you’re already outside and the cold water will motivate you to run even faster to get out of it quicker. Fitness bonus!

I remember when I first made the switch to running outdoors. Before I made the switch, I’d watch runners go past me as I walked to wherever I was going, thinking how miserable they must be for exercising out there. Ironically, now, whenever I’m running in cold weather and pass pedestrians, I imagine how cold and miserable the walkers must be. It’s something you just have to try once to understand. The hardest part is done once you’ve stepped outside.

Picture an adaptive treadmill, that changes terrain as it pleases and forces you to change with it; a treadmill that keeps you guessing and teaches you to always be attentive; a treadmill that produces soothing water sounds; a treadmill that produces a symphony made only from the sounds of wild animals; a treadmill that produces all the colors of the world; a free treadmill. 

Join Earth’s treadmill—the outdoors.