We all have our favorites, don't we?
There are favorite foods to eat. Most of us have a favorite pair of shoes. Some have a favorite color (and some of us have several).
Many of us are runners, and we have our favorite running routes.
Back in the early days, though, I was one of those predictable runners. I had a favorite route that I ran all the time...always the same distance... and (probably) always at the same easy pace. No hills, no speed intervals, no change of terrain. Boring. Blah. Blech.
It definitely was a comfort zone thing. We all know what happens in comfort zones, right? N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Not only is it hard to make much progress, it's not good for your body to do the same thing all the time. We grow (in strength, endurance and spirit) by switching things up a bit. Running a variety of distances, training at different speeds, and changing the terrain underfoot all benefit a runner's fitness.
Thankfully, my eagerness to grow as a runner (and my boredom with the same old route) got the best of me. I now have several routes that I utilize in my training. All serve different purposes, and all have their own individual nuances. Care to hear more?
My old standby-2.25-miler
This is the route that started it all....the route that I ran all the time when I was a new runner and didn't know to do things differently. It's a flat route, and the 2.25-mile distance is a convenient quick workout if I don't have a lot of time. It goes around part of the nearby college campus, so it is well-lit in the early morning or evening hours. And a bonus? All of those lampposts are great markers for intervals or Fartleks. Sometimes I run an extra block (or several!) out and back, which can up the total distance to 2.5-3 miles (if I'm wanting a more "rounded" number).
The 2-mile quick & easy (hilly) route
I live in a somewhat hilly neighborhood. Every run from my driveway either starts or ends on an incline. The block I live on is exactly a half mile in distance around the perimeter, and that will net me two good hills (one on the "front" side, and another on the "back"). Across the street from my house is another block, but it's a little bit smaller...it takes three complete laps to get a mile in distance. But, that little block also has a hill on its front and back sides, and they are on a steeper incline. Thus, I can run alternating loops around these two blocks...starting with the small block, then doing a loop around the big block, then the small one (again), and the big one (again), and ending with a final lap around the small one. This little excursion takes me approximately 20 minutes, is two miles in cumulative distance, and there are 10 hills conquered in that short amount of time. This little route gives me a lot of bang for my (running) buck! It's perfect in the dark or in inclement weather, or any time I don't feel like venturing too far from my house.
|at the base of one of the hills across from my driveway|
The 1.5-miler around campus
There is a loop around the college campus I run (and walk) frequently which is exactly one mile in distance. The caveat is that it's a couple of blocks from my house, so adding those extra blocks (to and from) makes it a 1.5 mile adventure. I can also do as many loops around that 1-mile perimeter as I want and not have to worry about looking like a lost idiot because with the constant motion of students coming and going (that is, when classes are in session), no one is going to notice me coming around for a second (or third) lap. I know, pure genius...right?
The 5K route
There's a 5K route that gets utilized for almost every 5K race that happens in my town...and it goes right by my house. There's a segment (about a full mile) that is on a county road, which has two fantastic hills! Depending on the direction I'm going, the hills either have a graduation incline (with a steep decline) or vice-versa. The remaining two miles are on fairly flat roads in town (except for the segment that goes by my house).
The #5at5 route
I have mentioned this route a time or two (or several). As the name implies, it's a 5-mile route that I usually run at 5:00 a.m. with my friend (and main training partner), Barb. It's a looped route that goes out to our middle school and back to my driveway. There are a few rolling hills (which aren't as noticeable in the fall/winter/early spring due to the darkness), but most of the route is pretty flat. Barb and I run this route a lot, even when we're not in training, because it's a perfect distance and has very limited traffic (especially in the early hours of the morning).
And, finally, the lake! We have a beautiful lake on the southwest area of town. It has a partial wooded path, some fine gravel, and some paved concrete...all culminating in an approximate mile loop around its perimeter. Often times, I'll drive over and just run a few laps around the lake. Other times, I'll run the two miles from my house, do a couple laps around the lake, and run back home. It's a perfect setting if I'm not feeling like committing to a long run or don't know how far I want to run...I can start out with a lap or two around the lake, and stop whenever I want. It's also a perfect location for a group run because runners of all abilities and paces can run "together" and not have to worry about being left behind.
|on the gravel part of the trail|
It's anyone's guess which route I'll run most days (except for the #5at5 mornings). Since I'm not training for anything specific at the moment (thank you COVID-19), often times I do a combination of these routes to vary the distance and terrain. I usually don't need my Garmin, either, because I know these routes well enough that I won't have to track my distance.
What's your running routine like? Do you have a slew of favorite routes that you run frequently? Or, do you find yourself running a few favorites more often than others?
Some of the text and images in this post appeared in a previous post.