When I don’t have an event to train for, I find myself running in a very unstructured way, and not running as frequently as I’d like. To combat this, I signed up for the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon this August. I set up a training plan in RunKeeper and now I have set days and distances to run.
In Minneapolis I lived a couple blocks from a really large trail system that branched in many directions near my home. I could start from the same place for all of my runs and plan long or short runs that took me out and back or in a loop, with very few street intersections to deal with. The only feature not offered by those trails was variety in running surface or terrain. It was all paved, and virtually flat. I could run over 12 miles without a single hill, especially if you don’t count freeway overpasses.
Now that I’m in Olympia, I’ve got plenty of terrain! In a quarter mile I can get the same elevation climb I’d achieve in a 5K in Minneapolis. It’s a new challenge for me, and one that I’d been looking forward to. I’m also enjoying it now that I’ve had a chance to try it out. What I don’t have is a giant trail network a few short blocks from my home. There is a biking trail that is great for running about half a mile from my house, which is nice, but it’s also paved and relatively flat. Boo. If I run on the shoulder in the opposite direction of the trail, I can get some great hill runs in, but I’m also running on the shoulder of a moderately busy road and it’s still paved.
With my recent training regime, running on the one trail over and over again has gotten pretty repetitive. I thought I’d scope out a nearby park and go for a run there. The first thing I found was the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Trail, and since it’s only $3 for up to 4 people, Ethan and I headed there this morning to take a slow run down the boardwalk. Sadly, right after we paid admission, we saw the “No Jogging” sign. Since we were already there, we did take a nice 4 mile walk around the park and saw some wildlife. It was nice, but now I’m set to go run on the same biking trail again. I’ll have to keep looking for the elusive nearby unpaved trails.