Sometimes running gets a little boring. I get into a routine where I do the same route 2-3 times a week for several weeks, the only changes being how far I’m running. When I first started out I ran the same 1.25 mile loop and I would just run 3 times, 4 times and so on. The route was close to my house and I liked having the comfort of knowing I could end the run early if I was injured or needed water. Eventually I decided to branch out.
I started running right after work on a trail that follows the Iowa River. The loop is about six miles and is really quite beautiful. This is where I ran six miles for the first time. I’m definitely going to miss this trail when I leave Iowa City.
This week I was having a hard time getting myself out the door for a run. I debated several options and eventually decided I wanted to take a nap. As soon as I laid down I remembered how I wanted to do a trail run after reading Runner’s World’s special edition trail magazine. I’m only going to be in Iowa City for about a week and a half and other runners have told me to try out Hickory Hill Park. I figured this was my chance.
After I jumped up, got my running clothes on, and headed to the park I started off on the trail not really knowing what to expect. I have no idea how long this trail is, and honestly don’t really want to know. I enjoyed simply running for time and not distance. The trail is gravel, which felt a lot nicer than asphalt but also added an extra challenge because me feet sunk in. There were several rocks and sticks to jump over and a pretty steep hill at the end of my run.
I had. So. Much. Fun.
Really! Trail running was exactly what I needed that day. The weather was gorgeous and the park is well maintained and fun to run in. I didn’t really even feel like I was running, just exploring where the trails went. Every time I went around a corner I wondered what I would see and where it would take me. I ran for about 30 minutes and I covered the majority of the trails in the park, larger trails like the one pictured above and tiny off road trails.
Before I got into running and biking I was very into hiking, and that’s something I wish I did more of now. Trail running was a happy medium. It’s less about the exercise of running and more about using running as a vehicle to see the world. It feels very primal, like you’re running through the jungle.
I wanted to get in 3 runs this week, but I ended up giving one of them up to jog uphill to a little park with Jason and play soccer. I sprinted to the ball, kicked it, ran around the park dribbling. I never played soccer but Jason did and I think he misses it terribly. Supposedly I’m not all that bad at it either, but in any case it was a pretty good workout in place of another run–and still a good way to practice running skills.
What are your favorite ways to change your workouts?