Where do I run?

Where do I run?

There are as many answers to the above question as the number of you reading this post.  Some people think the only place to run is on a track.  As a high school track runner, I can tell you that the idea of running circles, counting circles, losing track of the number of circles, and looking at the same scenery round and round did not interest me one bit at this point of my life.  In my year and a half of running consistently, I have run on a high school track zero times.  Of course, some of that has to do with the fact that our local high school keeps the gate padlocked, but still…circles.  

So if I don’t run on the track, where do I go to run? 

  • City park:  I have a park that I go to on a regular basis during the week after I drop the kids off from school.  There is a paved path that has marked quarter miles.  The scenery may not change much, but there are always people there and I can change the route up by starting in different points. 
  • Neighborhoods:  I don’t live in one, but I venture out from the park and run through some of the surrounding neighborhoods for my longer runs.  As an added bonus, I have discovered some beautiful homes and new landscaping ideas that I would have not noticed in a car. 
  • My road:  We live in the country, and the road can get busy at certain times of the day. The speed limit is 50 mph, but that seems to be more of a guideline for people.  If I need to run some hills, then my road is the place to be.  It’s seldom that I run on my road, though, for two reasons:1) The further I run away from the house, the further I have to run back.  2) We live at the top of a hill.  No matter what, I have to run uphill to get home.

When considering where to run, look for safety first.  If you don’t feel safe, don’t run there.  Here are a few guidelines I stick to based on my experience. 

Well-lit.  The few times I’ve needed to start my run before the sun comes up, I make sure I run at the park where streetlights cover part of the path.  There are usually some other people out there walking dogs or getting their early morning run in.   

Light vehicle traffic.  During marathon training, my long runs began to coincide with garage sale times.  I learned to move my training away from certain streets to avoid the traffic.  There are roads that become too busy to cross after a certain time of day.  Also consider that you wouldn’t want to run near a school during drop off or pick up time.

Terrain.  My son likes to run trails; I do not.  I worry about tripping over a root or rock.  I like to focus on my writing ideas or my pace, not constantly look for a landing for my feet.  If you like the challenge of a trail, they’re out there.  I stick to the roads or paved areas.  The closest I come to running a trail is when I move off my road (into the ditch) to let a car pass.

Even with these guidelines, another precaution I follow is to carry pepper spray.  I don’t always carry it with me, but for those less traveled roads when I’ve encountered loose [big] dogs, I’m prepared.  I also carry my ID and phone for long runs when I don’t have a predetermined route.

I hope this gives you some new ideas on where to run.  For the next post, I’ll cover the last “w” and talk about finding the time to run.

What do I need?

To recap the last two posts, we’ve talked about the who and the why of running.  It’s time to visit the third “W.”

“I think I want to run, but what do I need?”

I’m cheap.  I really don’t like to spend money, and I sure don’t like to spend it on myself.  One of my favorite parts about running is that it is inexpensive to get started.  I tend to go full force with new ideas and at times they fizzle out.  What I liked about running was the fact that I only needed to buy a couple of things in the beginning.  Then if it fizzled out, I wouldn’t feel guilty spending a bunch of money.

Just the basics

1.   A pair of running shoes

I bought my first pair at our local big box sporting goods store and ran my first 5K in them.  I spent $40.  They worked fine in the beginning and for what I needed them for.  Once I decided to run a half marathon, I went to a running store to get professionally fitted for a pair that could take the pounding of that training. 

2.  A basic technical top and shorts

If you’re new to running or getting back into fitness after a few years off, you’ll find that workout wear has changed.  This is a small investment that’s worth the money if you sweat.  Technical tops are made of material that wicks the sweat away from your body.  It’s fine to run in a cotton t-shirt, but I sweat and it’s not a pretty sight.  I don’t like the heaviness.  Then, find some shorts that you are comfortable wearing.  You can find technical wear just about anywhere that has an activewear section.   

3.   Stopwatch

Even if you don’t want to time yourself, it’s a good idea to have a way to keep track of progress.  Once again, don’t splurge.  A basic sport watch can be found for as little as $10.

4.   Water bottle

Hydration is important.  How much and how often depend on the individual and the climate, but make sure you follow each run with water.

So get ready with your gear, and next time we’ll talk about where to run.

Why should I run?

The second “W” of running:  

Why should I run?”

  • Because I want to lose weight.

If weight loss is your plan, know this:  running can burn some major calories.  The actual amount of calories burned varies depending on your height, weight, and how fast you run.  For example, a 150 pound runner who puts in a ten minute mile can burn about a hundred calories.  That’s 300 calories in thirty minutes!  You can’t get that burn rate on a stationary bike.

  • Because I want to be fit! 

If you already exercise and want to improve your fitness, add in a couple of runs each week to work different muscle groups

  • Because I want to reach a goal. 

If you want to say you’ve run a 5K, the feeling of accomplishing this goal will motivate you forward.  Other areas of your life will benefit.

  • Because I need to get moving. 

I think everyone knows a sedentary lifestyle is not great for your health, but there are days it’s hard to get motivated to move.  Running will improve your energy levels.

  • Because I need a stress outlet.  

I can personally attest to running as a stress management tool.  I was a smoker in my twenties. (Yeah, I heard those gasps.  Some of you just thought you knew me well.)  In the past year, I had some stressful situations.  Had I been a smoker, I would’ve reached for a cigarette and chain-smoked my way through it.  Instead, I put on my shoes and went for a run.  I jokingly once told someone that if it wasn’t for running, I’d be drinking and smoking.  Now I’ll admit there are some days when I want to keep running (away), but I always come back.   

These reasons seem to be some of the most popular for why someone starts running.  If you want to lose weight, improve fitness, accomplish a goal, be less sedentary, or manage stress better, running can be the key.  But the reasons for running are as unique and individual as you are.

Take a few minutes, and think of your “why” for wanting to run.