Back in March, as many others have done, my gym closed its doors due covid-19. I was left to fend for myself, alone in the Arizona desert, far away from the reliable confines of a 24-hour gym. Regardless, the gym still had the nerve to charge me the same monthly membership fee, in exchange for “The chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card every month, as incentive to exercise,” which by the way I still haven’t won.
So, with the “Quarantine 15” rapidly creeping up on me, and the comfort of a $100 Amazon gift card hardly within reach, I decided to come up with a game plan. Somewhere between my timeline of starting keto then stopping (now I’m fat again), drinking kale avocado smoothies nonstop, then scarfing down xxtra flamin’ hot cheetos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I determined that neither my weird dieting nor my living room yoga videos were anywhere near sustainable enough for what could be considered a healthy lifestyle. That’s when I decided to venture out into the scorching Arizona heat to go for a run. And let me tell you, it was a life-changing experience. If you haven’t yet discovered for yourself the spiritual awakening that is running outside, you’re totally missing out! But don’t worry, I’m here to share with you the best parts about running outside, and all the reasons I will never go back to running on the treadmill of an air-conditioned gym.
You will always find a dead body.
Out of the 337 episodes of the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 300 of them began with a runner finding a dead body in the bushes, then proceeding to call David Caruso to kneel over the body and put on his aviator sunglasses. And this is one hundred percent accurate. In my own experience, every time I’ve gone on a run, I’ve discovered a dead body in a black garbage bag. The first dead body you find may put you through a severely traumatic ordeal, but this will only cause a short-lived emotional scar, and certainly does not compare to how rewarding it feels to turn over a dead body to the police. Since you therefore end up establishing a good rapport with the police after turning in so many dead bodies, you will never have to worry about running at night — girls I’m talking to you — because the police will always keep you safe.
“Is that sweat dripping down my back, or a bug making its way towards my butt crack?”
The best part about running outside is the amount of sweat you will produce, and the thrill of how athletic this will make you feel. But there’s only so long that you can fantasize about yourself starring in a Gatorade commercial, or featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as 2020’s breakout athlete/legend of the decade. However, one of the best parts about running outside is the fact that things always stay interesting. Once you’re past the professional athlete stage of your run, you will have also reached the point where you have sweated off all the bug spray you paid $12 on sale for. Which also means, lots of bugs will be buzzing in your ears and landing on your nose. Sometimes they will crawl on your back, and you won’t be sure if it’s just the sweat dripping down your back. This will keep you on your toes, and will make you run even faster.
You will never have to use a public restroom ever again.
When you go on long runs, no matter how hard you try to hold it in, no matter how hard you focus on Drake singing about the girl he loved seven years ago, you will inevitably have to go number one (or number two if you had a small sip of coffee last night). It’s a good thing that nature is man’s best toilet. Why use a nasty gym restroom that’s been disinfected with toxic chemicals, when you can squat in a bush as you dart your eyes around nervously, praying to God, Jesus, and Allah that a car won’t drive by and see your bare naked ass? Why use toilet paper that someone’s coronavirus fingers may have brushed up against just a few minutes ago, when you can use your girlfriend’s white socks that are much softer than a leaf and far less sweatier than your own socks? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
You won’t have to watch the Food Network on the little treadmill TVs.
Everyone can agree that the worst part of running on a gym treadmill is being forced to watch episode after torturous episode of Chopped on the little TVs. And perhaps this is due to your own laziness to switch to a different treadmill, or the confusion about which button to press to at least lower the volume, but nonetheless, running mile after mile as you watch four chefs haphazardly make different stews out of corned beef and oreos is a nauseating experience, one that you will never have to deal with if you run outside. Instead of straining your eyes on the little treadmill TV, you can enjoy the blinding sun in the corner of your eyes because you forgot your sunglasses at home and woke up too late to miss the sunrise on your way back. Without the distraction of people cooking all that delicious non-keto food in front of you, you can simply enjoy your daily run, breathing in the fresh summer air and relishing in the warmth of the sun on your back and directly into your corneas.
You’ll get to smile awkwardly at the other runners you pass by.
The best way to make friends with the random people in your neighborhood is not through a gym membership, but by running outside at 5am. There is something so humbling about seeing a reflection of yourself in the other runners’ pre-coffee faces — hair in disarray, penciled-in eyebrows nowhere to be seen. Knowing that their minds are racing with the same thoughts of Should I make eye contact? Should l look down? Should I just smile awkwardly? builds an unbreakable bond that cannot be replicated during the first and last ten minutes of a Wednesday evening zumba class at the gym. From the moment you think to yourself “Oh shit there’s another person coming up… What should I do with my face so I don’t look like a snob?” building up to the 3 seconds that you wiz past each other thinking, Do I also look that cool when I’m out of breath? you’ll become closer and closer friends, until the day one of you decides to either run an entirely different route, or quickly switch to the other side of the road.
You can spit anywhere you want.
That feeling you get on a run, when you’re wheezing so hard that you start to feel phlegm disgustingly building up in the back of your throat, is a much less miserable experience when you’re outdoors instead of at the gym. Instead of clearing your throat and swallowing your phlegm, you can just spit it out on the side of the road. No more gym Karens side-eyeing you while you cough up a lung, then immediately switching to a different treadmill much farther away from you. The best part of all is that sometimes when you hock a loogie while the wind is blowing just right, it will land on your face instead of on the ground, which is a nice way to boost your energy and cool you off naturally.
You will be free from the burdens of a water bottle
When you go for a run outside, you’ll never have to worry about where to put that pesky water bottle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been annoyed by the convenience of the cup holder built into every standard treadmill. Who really wants to have water at hand any time they get thirsty? I know I certainly do not. Running outside is the ultimate game changer for hydration, because never again will you have to fumble with another bottle cap or awkwardly attempt to direct the spout directly into your mouth without water spilling everywhere as you bounce around on the treadmill. If you run outside, all you have to do is chug as much water as you possibly can before you leave. This is by far the most enjoyable way to hydrate yourself, since after only 3 minutes of running, you’ll get the chance to pee in the great outdoors. Towards the end of your run, you’ll be so thirsty that you’ll be sprinting home faster than ever, and before you know it, your mile time will have improved beyond your greatest expectations.
We’ve all experienced “runner’s high,” the state of euphoria that occurs during the highest point of a strenuous run, but have you ever experienced “oncoming heatstroke high,” where you start hallucinating from being in the summer heat too long? The key to taking your running game to the next level is simply to take it outdoors. Once you begin to experience these advantages for yourself, and see your body at peak performance, I guarantee you’ll never want to step foot on a treadmill ever again.