I more or less run on the road 95% of the time. It's convenient to run straight from my front door and around my neighborhood, but running on cambered (btw - I just learned what that meant) asphalt and concrete aren't the best things for the body. Since the start of this year I have been wanting to return to the track and treadmill as an attempt to be preempt any injuries, but truth be told, the extra 30-40 minutes it takes to drive round trip to the track or gym is precious sleep time in the early morning. But when I started to get nagging aches and pains, I knew I had to switch things up - so in the past week I've ran on the treadmill, at the track, and at a new trail. The Treadmill
I haven't done a full workout on a treadmill since I fell off one 15 months ago. In fact, it wasn't even a considered option when trying to schedule my run workouts around work, weather, etc. But after doing the VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold testing at UCSF, I felt hopeful I could become friends with the treadmill again. Yet I was still lazy about driving to the gym.
But last night I remembered that the mini gym in my housing complex recently upgraded the cardio equipment so I decided to check it out for this morning's run. I walked on it for 5 minutes to get acclimated before starting the workout. The workout I had scheduled for today had a total of 20 different speed changes which forced my to stay engaged. The TM also had the track display where I could "see" myself circling a track - it was a nice distraction. I didn't get bored and successfully ran 5-miles - more than I ever thought I'd be able to do. I was so happy about it and felt like I'd won a gold medal! :)
Getting to the track was a bit more of a challenge. When I run at the track, I usually go after work, because both high school tracks that I use are on the way home from the office. Only one of them has stadium lights and has been very popular with the local community in the evenings. It's the track where I ran my first ever mile 8 years ago and I have been using it on/off ever since.
But when I got there, all the gates were locked. I raced across town to get to the other track so that I could get my workout done in time before the sun went down. Thankfully it was open and although the high school soccer team was practicing, there were other community people using the track so I did too. I switched up the direction that I ran in every 2 laps and was able to finish just as the sun was setting, hitting all of my target paces.
Later I found out that the local school district is restricting community use of all high school tracks until 8 pm or on weekends. I have a soap box rant about this topic which I'll spare you all of. However, I was curious to see if the tracks were open for use in the early AM so I got up one morning before a 7 am yoga class and drove to BOTH tracks. Turns out the gates of both tracks were unlocked, and track with lights even had 2 ladies running and the flood lights were on. I'm glad I at least still have this option for the days when I'm up for some "Nascar running."
A co-worker clued me in on a cross country course that's about 15-minutes away from me. I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before but since it was unpaved, I was anxious to try it out. I had a brief preview of it last Friday with Sesa, and then fully explored it on Saturday with RoadBunner. It was a pleasantly nice hilly trail with wide dirt paths that were so nice to run on. Unfortunately it's pretty short, only 3.39 miles, so not ideal for long weekend runs. But it will be a nice option for shorter ones, as well as weekday runs during the summer.
It did lead me to research other local trails and there's a few ones that I found that I really want to explore. The only thing that scares me is the threat of mountain lions. In fact, there was a sighting of one today in Los Altos. I have no idea what I would do if I ever came face-to-face with one.
Moving Forward It could be a mental thing, but I don't feel as beat up after running on the TM, track or trail as I do after running on pavement. My knee is still being funky (not while I'm running but afterwards) so I think I'm going to try and stick to these options (as much as possible) for a while and see how things go. If anything, it'll build up mental strength and keeps things interesting!