Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shake up the Long Run

Are you tired of the same routine every day?  Do you have one beloved neighborhood route that you run all the time?  How about if you try to shake things up once in a while?

Distance runners get especially tired of their "long run" routes, possibly because after two hours on the road, we get bored anyway.  I know that I need something to be excited about on Sundays in order to get up at five in the morning to prepare for my lsd.  No, peeps, I do not indulge in acid; LSD stands for long, slow distance run.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am so. bored. with. running.

What helps me is having a different route to run each week.  I can still run my beloved neighborhood loop or do four strenuous, hilly miles on Sand Run path during the week, but Sundays need to be different.  Think about what makes a long run tiresome for you.  Is it having to carry water/fuel/tons of Kleenex?  Shhh, I have sinus issues; don't judge.  Is it not having access to a bathroom when you think you will need it?  Maybe it's that your pace is different than most in your running group?

The solution to all of these problems could be running a loop.  Now, loops can be monotonous, so I would not suggest running them every week, but once in a while they can be a treat on the long run.  Don't want to carry stuff?  No problem--stash your loot on the loop and revisit when you wish.  Is your pace faster/slower than others in your group?  No problem--run the opposite way on the loop to catch up and then continue running.  Also, many runners will accommodate slower/faster paces if they know that it's just for a mile or two.  Likewise, you can choose a faster partner and keep up for that one loop knowing that you can always slow down later.  You may find yourself running with a different partner for every loop.  How's that for shaking things up?

Today I ran a 1.8 mile loop at Hudson Springs Park with The Towpath Turtles.  The Turtles were going to run five loops, and I ran six.  We put all of our water, bug spray, fuel, and whatnot on a picnic table along with a board with our names on it.  Every time we passed the table, we would stop and make a tally mark next to our names to keep the numbers straight.  Genius!

Hudson Springs Park Trail in November
Hudson Springs in November.  Photo Credit:  Kevin Payravi

I really enjoyed this for several reasons:  1) Hudson Springs has a very pretty route going through the woods and around a lake, 2)the path is quite hilly, but not so much that I had to walk it (like on a trail), and 3) I got to run with different people all the time.  This was my morning to catch up with Jen  and Kathy, and we had great conversations.  When they got tired of me, they told me to move on, and I did.

Running a loop was a great way for me to shake up my long/slow, and it was fun to connect with other runners without worrying about pace.  In fact, my Garmin blew out halfway through the run (because we ran in a rainstorm), and I didn't care because I knew what the distance would be, and I could just estimate the total time.

I wonder where I'll run next week.

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