Exploring Your Own Backyard

Now that it’s officially summertime and the livin’ is easy, step outside your normal routine and explore all that your neck of the woods—or city—has to offer. Although we all engage in plenty of fun summer activities every year, we encourage you to try something new: something you’ve never done before, while keeping budget and convenience in mind.

Happy trails!

Bicycle Built for Two

Delight in the feeling of the wind in your hair as you ride alongside your travel companion on a tandem bicycle as a means of alternative transportation. Not only will you enjoy the company of a friend, but you’ll also be breathing in fresh air and exploring your surroundings on a more intimate level, all while burning off extra calories.

Speaking of burning off cals, going for a tandem ride allows you to ride longer than a traditional bike because you have two times the effort. You can alternate taking rests while still moving.

Check out your local bike shop for buying or renting, or visit rentabikenow.com for a list of more than 250 participating bike rental shops nationwide—and parts of Canada!

Kudos to Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; Boulder, Colo.; Seattle, Wash.; and Eugene, Ore. for being the top five bike-friendly cities in the US.

Day at the Museum

Summer swelter or a rainy day got you down? Try venturing out to your local museum for the afternoon. Whether it is art, science, kids, history, or anything in between, going to the museum is a fun way to stay out of the heat and spend time with friends and family. Plus, the average admission to a museum in the US is only $8, making this activity entertaining and easy on your wallet. And who knows? You might just learn a little something along the way.

If you’re unfamiliar with museums in your area, go to museumusa.org and search the directory by state.

Volunteer

Looking for an activity that will pass the time while making you feel good? Try volunteering. Several different kinds of volunteer opportunities are available: walking dogs for the Animal Humane Society, helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or engaging in kids’ learning and teaching programs at your local library, to name a few. Whatever the cause, enlisting yourself to serve your community will have you feeling good while getting involved.

You can see volunteer opportunities with the Humane Society at animalhumanesociety.org/volunteer, or check out what’s available locally for Habitat for Humanity at habitat.org/local. If you just can’t decide on a Good Samaritan deed, visit volunteer.gov for more ideas.

Get Up and Get Moving

You’ve been working hard to shed those extra pounds by beach season. Why not introduce some friendly competition to your workout goals and sign up for a race this summer?

Races come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that lines up with your skill level. Many races are also put on by a good cause, so by signing up you could contribute to autism research, preservation of your local parks, or the fight to end obesity. You can also participate in races that are a little more untraditional: think mud runs, color runs, or even beer runs. The possibilities are endless.

If you already have a 5K or two under your belt, go the extra mile (or extra 3.1 miles) and start training for a 10K. If you’ve really got the running bug, go for that half marathon you’ve always thought about doing but never got around to. Enjoy the scenery. Now’s as good a time as any.

With any physical training, however, always make sure you listen to your body and are conscious of its limits. Don’t overdo it. Make a training regimen you’re comfortable with and go from there.

To find a list of races in your area, visit runnersworld.com/race-finder and search by state, distances, and dates.

Timeless Challenge

If you find yourself stuck in a rut trying to beat your best times, try author and endurance athlete Jenny Hadfield’s Timeless Challenge. She encourages you to put down your distance-tracking, time-keeping tools to help you shave time off of your stride. Open yourself up to a different approach to distance running, and let your body take the lead.

>Commit to racing either without a watch, or wearing a watch but not referring to it during the race. (Results are better without a watch.)

>On race day, break the distance into three parts and run by color—think yellow, orange, and red.

YELLOW is conversational, easy effort. You should be able to talk in sentences.

ORANGE is moderate, where you can hear your breath but you’re not breathing hard. You can talk in words.

RED —that’s what you’ve paid for. That’s a hard effort where you can’t talk and your breathing is more rapid.

For example, for a 10K, run two miles in the yellow zone, three in the orange zone, and the final stretch in the red zone. The more seasoned and fit you are, the more you can tweak the balance of mileage and the zones. As you progress you could run more time in the red zone—say two miles—whereas a newbie might run more in the yellow and finish two miles in the orange zone.

Source: jennyhadfield.com