Thursday, August 30, 2012

Matching run routes to mood and workout

Do you have run routes for different types of runs or different moods? I definitely do. Part of the fun of running for me is picking just the "right" place and the "right" route for each workout - rolling or flat, busy or quiet, loop or out-and-back, town or country, asphalt, gravel, or trail. Here are a few of my go-to places:

Valley road with wide bike lane, close to house -- This is where I run if (1) I want something easy, close, and quiet (2) I have intervals where I want to focus on effort and speed and not the surface or navigation.  It's smooth asphalt with wide shoulders and a bike lane on both sides, about 8 miles out-and-back, and perfect for dark winter morning headlamp runs. My brick workouts depart from here.

I've run and biked through this tunnel more times than I can count
Rails-to-trails Huckleberry Trail -- This 12 mile out-and-back suits weekend runs when I am feeling more social and want to be out amongst the walking-running-biking community. It's a small town so it's hard to run there and NOT know someone!

Main Street -- To watch the hustle and bustle of the world go by, I run on our main thoroughfare that stretches from the north end of town to the south, but there are a lot of curbs. It's not a good route to hit specific paces or intervals.

Pandapas Pond in the Jefferson National Forest -- I run here for the head and for the soul and to give the legs a break from the pounding roads. I've had some really transcendent moments on these trails. I've also had a few wipeouts  as well as one major navigation error resulting in an epic trail run.

The Annual Brush Mountain Breakdown race

Virginia Tech Track -- Although our (old) high school has a track, when I have serious speed work goals, it happens here. It's a gorgeous collegiate track, and more often than not, I have it to myself. This is where I hit my first sub-6 minute mile a few weeks back.

Virginia Tech Rec Fields -- The 40 acres of manicured recreation fields are perfect for strides. I am reasonably confident that the surface is level and hole-free so I can bound across shod or barefoot. It's alongside the Huckleberry Trail so I can combine the two.

Rural roads -- I used to really enjoy marathon-buildup long runs on the back roads, with water and fuel planted along the way. Last year, I did more in-town running for my marathon prep but it's nice to have this option.

Tour de Tailgates -- I usually run the November Richmond Marathon (not this year with Worlds), so often my long runs would coincide with football Saturdays. I'd plan to run through campus toward the end when I needed a "Hokie" boost, plus it was nice to have all those port-o-johns around if needed! (Tour du Tailgates blog post)

New River Trail -- This is a 57-mile long rails-to-trails that is packed gravel and quite scenic in sections as it meanders along Claytor Lake and the New River. I hit it for long runs, but I have to drive a ways to get to it. I have run for miles and miles without seeing a soul, which out there can be a little disconcerting.

Town/Campus -- My default standard aerobic running happens through town and campus. It's nice  after four years of running to have a pretty good idea of times and distances for various loops so I can head out without much planning. The Weight Club is just beyond the edge of campus so I can run before or after strength training and make better use of time.

You really get to know your community by running (and biking) through it. You discover how the look, the smells, the sounds, the plants, the animals, and the "vibe" changes through the seasons. Times of the year for me are defined by things like scents of honeysuckle, bright yellow birds, fuzzy caterpillars, bunnies, and wild Hokies.

Rather than feeling like I spend my days going from one "Hobbit hole" to the next and missing all the in-between, I have a sense of inhabiting the whole community and not just my assigned parts of it. That sense of freedom to roam throughout my surroundings is a big part of what I love about running.