|July 5, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Running|
Just for fun, let’s start with a quick poll:
If you’re reading this in a reader or via email, you might have to click on the post for the poll to display.
Break the Running Route Rut
One of the best ways to get yourself out of a running rut is simply to find a new route. It’s truly amazing what a small change in scenery can do for the mental aspect of running. I know that whenever I have new and interesting things to look at on the run, the time passes by a lot quicker and I find myself wishing the run could go on forever.
Unfortunately, I live in a very (very) small state. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the area, but Providence is a tiny city within a tiny state. After awhile, a new place to run can be pretty hard to come by.
This is one reason why I get so excited when I have the opportunity to travel. Some people may see a new city as a place with millions of restaurants to try or museums to explore….I see it as a new running route. An almost endless supply of new roads to travel and paths to explore.
In my opinion, exploring by foot is one of the best ways to see a new place. I’ve found that I am more aware of my surroundings when I’m running (or walking) than when I’m driving. And I am able to learn my way around a lot quicker if I go for a run in that area. (Side note: my sense of direction is pretty lacking when I’m in the car, but when I run, it suddenly becomes really good. I have no idea why this is). Last week, I had a lot of fun running around San Diego. In fact, I think it’s pretty safe to say that was my favorite part of the trip.
But sometimes the intention of getting out to run around an unfamiliar area is easier said than done. There have been occasions where I’ve suddenly found myself in a not-so-nice part of town, or out further than I meant to go. No runner goes out with the goal of ending up somewhere unsafe…or lost.
Plus, if you’re going to explore an area, you want to make sure you get to see all the best sights. If there’s a place with a spectacular view or the perfect running path, you don’t want to miss it.
Which is why a little pre-run planning can go a long way.
Next time you find yourself in unfamiliar territory wanting to run, don’t be afraid to…
- Map it out. Yes, it can be a lot of fun to just head out the door and see where the wind takes ya, but sometimes it’s good to make yourself a basic plan…at least to make sure that there are actually roads that go where where you want to. Free online tools like mapmyrun.com are great for this.
- Find local friends. Social media is pretty amazing – it can connect you to people from all over the world. Chances are, you’ll be able to find someone who lives in the area you’re visiting. Even if you can’t run with them, they can give you some pointers about the best places to go. When I visited Charlotte last winter, Kelly sent me a couple of awesome running routes that lead me around neighborhoods I never would’ve been able to find otherwise.
- Harness the power of Google. Look up local parks, search the websites of local running groups, use the satellite/street view on Google maps to explore the area around you. Sometimes even just Googling something like “best running routes in [X city/town]” will get you a list of places other runners like to go.
- Ask the hotel. This one is hit or miss. Sometimes the people behind the desk have no idea, but I’ve been at hotels where they have little walking/running routes mapped out for guests. Even if they don’t have a map for you, they can often tell you where local runners tend to go.
- Have an adventure. Tie up your shoes, pick a direction, and go. Fortunately, the invention of the GPS watch has made this a little easier. If I’m nervous about finding my way back, all I have to do is save my starting coordinates, pick a direction, and just run. Yes, sometimes this means I don’t find the most scenic routes, but it never fails to bring a little adventure. I’ve had some of my best runs by heading out without any direction in mind.
So next time you’re visiting a new place, don’t be afraid to break away from that hotel treadmill and explore. I can’t remember the names of the restaurants I’ve eaten at in all the places I’ve visited, but I can remember all my runs.
When you are traveling, do you use running as a way to explore? Do you come up with a plan first, or do you like to make up the route as you go?