Choose your venue
By Fred Deckert
Running venues can sometimes be a problem. Especially so in the fall season when cross country events such as Fall Fest, Prefontaine and the Pine run appear on the race calendar. It’s always a good idea for runners to get some familiarity with the kind of terrain they will race over. Most of us do not live close to trails and like me, want to start their running right from the doorstep. Normally that’s not a bad idea, using part of our exercise time to motor back and forth to our running areas seems counterproductive and wasteful of the time in transit. Of course if you can bike or run there, you may gain an extra plus in exercise.
But, there are some good reasons to make the extra effort, at least occasionally to hunt for different running surfaces. Familiarity with the racing terrain is one, as was mentioned above. Additionally, trail running can be considerably gentler on the body, without the shock of pavement impact. Some of my running friends cannot abide much road training or their body rebels. For them, the trails of Tallahassee are a godsend and keep them running healthy. One of the most popular trail venues is the Lake Overstreet trail at Maclay Gardens. You can be assured of company if you run there, at almost any time. Such fanatics as Dana Stetson and Wallace Randell have been known to run it with flashlights to light the way. That may not be your cup of tea, but daylight running there and at other locations, many of which are referenced at the Gulf Winds website can be what the doctor ordered.
If it’s safety and better surfaces you seek, try some of the local school tracks. Company is generally easy to find there and it’s a great way to unobtrusively assess your running ability next to others going around and around the track. You might even be lucky enough to find a compatible companion to share the fun.