Just one of the awesome things about running (and despite what your knees after a run might have to say, there are plenty of them) is that you can just about do it anytime, anyplace (like the classic Janet Jackson song from the album janet. – 1993*). So sure, there are a few things that might get in the way – crappy roads, hailstones pouring out of the sky, drug dealers making deals along your route, rabid dogs – but running is still a very accessible activity. No gym membership needed (though belonging to a gym could increase your access to run time/space), no special equipment (but owning a treadmill of your own certainly doesn’t hurt). But many find running boring and repetitive. And downright tough.
As varied as we are in our tastes, our styles, and our politics, so true is the case for how we hustle our feet. I asked a few of my favorite running friends about their running spaces and places and methods for keeping enthused. Here’s what they had to say:
Road Runner: Lisa loathes the treadmill. She’s a bonafide road runner who has memorized the mileage of her favorite routes. When she wants to do something completely different, she uses Map My Run to create a new course with mileage before heading out. But often, she just puts her shoes on, figures out how long she wants to run, and goes for it. “Sometimes I will do exactly what I planned and other times I will cut it shorter or add onto depending how I feel.” Safety is not usually a concern, though she says she feels somewhat more vulnerable if she opts for a crack of dawn run. “I love a good sunrise over a sunset, and typically it’s cool and not windy.” Speaking of weather, Lisa says it’s never hurt her to run wet. “I never miss running because of rain – lame excuse!”
Close to Home: Johna is a treadmill runner. A beast with her runs, getting out five to six times a week in addition to other activities. She’s able to do this because of the handy-dandy treadmill at home. “I have no excuses to not run or get a workout in because it’s in my garage,” she says. “That’s how I really started running.” Still, she tries to run in her hilly neighborhood when she can, mixing things up and making things more challenging. “I’m definitely faster on the treadmill than I am on the streets.” To keep her going, she says that music is a must, along with the Nike App.
A Trail’s Pace: Kelly says she loves trail and beach running because it’s softer, with the bonus of getting “nature” sounds. “I used to run with music but I realized I was missing so much around me that I stopped.” Only if she’s forced to run on a treadmill does she put the earphones in. Or she might put on the television. She says the treadmill is much too boring to use unless inclement weather kicks her inside. Running the roads in her neighborhood, she has rarely felt unsafe. When outdoors, she’ll pick up mileage by running around a park a few times, which keeps her entertained because she can people watch. And see puppies! As an additional training technique, she bikes quite often, which she says is great cross training. “It builds strength and gives your joints a rest.”
Round and Round: The token male in this group, William, provides yet another example of how people train. Though he’ll get on the roads when he has to (like my Saturday morning long runs when I make him come with me), he prefers running around a track. “Isn’t that boring?” I asked him, perhaps even worse than a treadmill. “Running the streets, you have to stop at lights and worry about cars and uneven sidewalks. Tracks don’t bother me.” Good points. And safe, as the track where he runs has lots of people about and is well lit. He did mention some drawbacks to the track, however. “Sometimes it’s a little too crowded. And I feel like my GPS may not work as well on the track.” William doesn’t belong to a gym or have a treadmill at home so the outdoors are it for him, and still he manages to get runs in four to five times a week, along with another favorite sport of his – boxing.
The Dianderthal: If you haven’t picked up any hints by my tone, I’m not a fan of the treadmill, although I’ll use it when it’s too hot/dark/rainy (I’m not as gutsy as Lisa) to run outdoors. I’m much, much, much slower on the treadmill than on the road, and to me it feels like time nearly halts once I jump on one (I’ve only been running three minutes?! I thought that was at least six or seven). It’s best when I can find a machine with its own TV attached at my gym, though the last several times when I’ve been lucky enough to get a TV treadmill, I couldn’t get it to work. The best machine at my gym is the TV treadmill directly under the fan, but I’ve only had the fortune of snagging it once. It is nice that I’m able keep my hands free and still have water ever-present. And sometimes it’s fun to get in a pretend race with the treadmiller next to me, comparing pace and if she’s much faster, telling myself “she’s gonna stop before she gets to ten minutes.” Anything to keep it fun and interesting.
So the point of all these stories – do what you gotta do. But do it, and enjoy it.
Happy running (cycling, boxing)!
William Long is a Health Department employee, my work son, and my race ace/training pal. Having completed his first race in February, he is currently preparing for his third half marathon, which will be in San Francisco in July.
Johna Hernandez is my OG high school friend found anew via Facebook and Instagram. She encourages others with posts about her fitness journey while balancing work and family. She runs five to six times a week and has several races planned this year.
Kelly Colopy is my BIG (although she’s tiny) boss at the Long Beach Health Department. She’ll be running with the rest of the Health Department team in October’s Long Beach (Half) Marathon, though that should be a piece of cake for her – she’s a fit, focused triathlete with several races and challenges under her belt.
Lisa King is a fellow dance mom who’s been running most of her life. A natural athlete, she and her family stay active with races, soccer, and other events. She’s had many half and full marathon medals placed around her neck, including one for the 2013 Boston Marathon. It’s her fault I signed up for my first half marathon this past February in Huntington Beach.
*Anytime, Anyplace is one of my faaaaavorite JJ videos. Just a link to remind you of the video – gotta love a husky, handsome neighbor. I’ve never had one like that.