There are two types of runs. The ones where you can barely contain your excitement, skipping out the door with your running shoes, twirling with excitement (ok, that’s just me). But the point is that you feel great, ready to go, and it’s amazing. Then there is the other type of run. The one where you sit on the couch glaring at your shoes, wondering how much you’ll really regret it if you just totally bail on today’s run. For me, pretty much every urban run that does not involve beer or donuts is the dragging myself out the door type of run. I’m a trail runner through and through. Unless I can feed off the race day energy of a road race, I can’t stand running on the pavement. At all. But unfortunately, not every day can be a trail run so I’ve had to figure out ways to trick my mind into looking forward to urban running by creating games for myself.
To prevent burnout on days you can’t hit the more inspiring running areas, here’s how to keep urban running a little more interesting
I like to try and beat cars to the next stoplight. On the sidewalk, you guys. You need to stay on the sidewalk for this game. In areas of high traffic, this game isn’t that exciting. On the other hand you get to enjoy the glowering faces of drivers who realize that you are going faster than they are. On foot.
Embrace the Obstacles
Fire hydrant? Leap over it. Stray shopping cart? Take it for a spin. Low wall? Run on top of it. See how fast you can sprint through a crowded sidewalk. Dock points every time you knock someone over.*
Dance at Stoplights
Nothing irritates me more than being in the zone and having to break my running groove because of a redlight and an ill-timed pedestrian crossing. Inevitably I feel awkward and annoyed standing there while jogging in place waiting for the light to change so instead I do jumping jacks or, if I have my iPod, I dance. I give myself bonus points if I can make drivers laugh.
Stop for Donuts
Take that, trail running. I enjoy my urban runs a lot more if I know I’m going to end it somewhere fun for a hard-earned cinnamon roll or some tacos at that amazing taco truck that’s a little too far from home to walk. Not the healthiest option, but if that’s what it takes to get me out the door on my 8-mile city loop then so be it. I can make my peace with that.
Join the Hash House Harriers
The group for “alcoholics with a running problem,” they frequently run costumed through upscale areas of major metropolitan areas to prove that nothing forges camaraderie better than running, beer, and drunken shenanigans. Wherever you are, running with these guys is sure to liven up any urban running adventure.
I know. The only thing that sounds less exciting than running the same five-mile loop you do at least twice a week is running it on a track. But if you join a track club, you can get the benefit of a varied training program (speed work, yay!), and the company of other runners. Also, no stoplights or obstacles. Unless you feel like dragging the hurdles out.
There’s an App for That
It’s called Zombies, Run! If you haven’t already, you should download it. Urban running, training program, zombies. It really doesn’t get any more exciting than that.
*Don’t really do this one. While it is entertaining to pretend you’re in a video game, nobody wants to be blindsided by a runner sprinting around the corner. Maybe save the speed work for the track. Unless you’re being chased by zombies.