How To Get Outside–With Some Distance

The outdoors are beginning to reopen! And for folks like me who thrive on endorphin-fueled endurance, that means it’s time to gear up and start tackling some distance.

Although National Parks remain closed, many Washington State Parks as well as National Forest Lands are beginning to allow visitors. Yet maintaining social distance and making smart decisions is still vital to staying healthy.

The Guidelines

  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from other recreationalists.
  • Participate in outings only with others from your own household.
  • Try to cover your mouth and nose when passing others (I’ve found that wearing a Buff around my neck and pulling it over my mouth and nose when passing others is the easiest option when being active outside).
  • Don’t overcrowd an area. If the parking lot or trailhead is busy, turn around or go somewhere else.
  • Avoid traveling far from your local area, and definitely do not to stop in smaller communities. This includes gas stations, grocery stores, and hospitality services.
  • Stay within your capabilities. Now is NOT the time to push for a summit you’ve never done or head out into the middle of nowhere.

Activities With Some Distance

Debates over the safety of sports like rock climbing and backcountry skiing continue, but here are a few great ways you can get outside and start logging miles:

Trail Running and Hiking

Running on pavement can be hard on the body, so why not hit the trail instead? I have a feeling if you start looking into parks, you’ll be amazed at how many options there are to get some dirt under those shoes. In the Seattle area? Check out Tiger Mountain. Hanging in Portland? Forest Park offers more than 80 miles of trails to explore! Or, if you’re like me and the local option has a smaller size (like only 4-miles worth of trails), make the most of it by adding a few laps to make some distance.

Also read If You Want to Become a Runner, Easy Does It

Backpacking

If you’re craving more than a days’ worth of distance, then planning a night under the stars is a great option! Load up your backpack (um, hello weight training!) and head into the backcountry to get some added miles and really distance yourself socially. Just be aware of current rules or regulations in the area. For example, day-use and campsites are currently closed, which means your option is dispersed camping. If you don’t know what that means, familiarize yourself with the term and requirements before heading out. And in some areas, like the state of Oregon, dispersed camping may also be restricted at this time.

Also read 8 Classic Northwest Backpacking Hikes Worth the Heavy Pack

Paddle Sports

If you live near water, one of the easiest ways to get some distance is through paddle sports. Whether you head out on a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe, the water is a great way to follow all the current regulations while having a vast play area to recreate in. Also, if you’re new to the idea of water sports, please familiarize yourself with necessary safety precautions, such as tides and currents, water temperature, and safety gear.

Also read First Time Paddleboarding? Read These 5 Tips

Not sure where to go? Look into your State’s “Water Trails” – like Washington Water Trails Association, which lists options in the area.

Open Water Swimming

Heck, with summer around the corner, you can ditch the vessel and start doing some open water swimming, too! If you are a runner or cyclist, adding swimming to your cardio routine is a solid option for cross-training.

 Mountain Biking

Just like with trail running, many biking areas are beginning to open their gates, too. This is a great activity for gaining miles while building cardio strength and muscle endurance. For folks in Washington, check out the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance for current trail conditions and other updates. Or, for those around other parts of the region, look into the Northwest Trail Alliance. This group has a lot of great resources, and also coordinates volunteer opportunities if you’re looking to give back to the community.

Also read How to Avoid Common Bike Injuries

Road Cycling

For those not quite comfortable heading out into the wilderness yet, consider road cycling. Just like mountain biking, taking your bike out for a ride is a great way to get some physical activity. The real limit is how far your body can pedal. If you’re like me and a little intimidated by riding on highways or main roads, you can always look into what nearby bike paths are available. A personal favorite in Washington is the Olympic Discovery Trail and near Portland, I always loved the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Take It Easy

My last word-to-the wise right now is: Practice patience.

We’ve all been going through a lot, whether that’s been emotionally, physically, and/or financially. Chances are, your endurance is not what it was before the lockdown. And that is 100% O.K. You’re going to gain it back, but not if you rush out and overexert or injure yourself.

So when heading outside to clear your mind and get some miles, extend some grace to yourself and those around you.

Image by drial7m1

Before You Go Back to the Gym, Read This

 

Brooke Jackson

Brooke Jackson is an internationally featured writer and photographer based in Seattle. As the founder of Wandering Trails Media, she specializes in travel, outdoor adventure sports, and environmental studies. Brooke also instructs for REI Outdoor School, where she finds joy in educating others on how best to get outside in a responsible and sustainable way. See more of Brooke's work at www.WanderingTrailsMedia.com



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