I headed out the door Saturday for a long run in Columbia, MO, where we were visiting my in-laws. I have a few routes I enjoy there, but with the snow they were out, so I planned on sticking to places I knew would be plowed.
There is nothing simpler than planning an out-and-back. Here’s a quick primer: (1) decide on total distance; (2) start running in one direction until 1/2 of total distance is achieved; (3) turn around and run in the opposite direction. Seemingly condescending sarcasm aside, it did remind me how much more fun a loop can be since you’re not retracing your steps. With a little planning, you can get pretty close to your target distance, and you never have to look at the same scenery twice. On the other hand, the simple out-and-back has its virtues as well. Even on an unfamiliar route, it’s familiar on the way back, so you can push a hill knowing what lies beyond, or slow the pace as needed.
On this run, I had at least one happy coincidence. First, my planned distance landed me literally at the doorstep of Mizzou Arena as a turnaround point. There aren’t any steps, so the Rocky music wasn’t going through my head, but it was inspiring to be threading between Hearnes and Faurot Field as well.
This is a two-for-one post, so turning my stream of consciousness to the other topic: long run hydration. I hate those belts. I tried one once. Once. I just couldn’t deal with all the flopping around and riding up, etc. Of course I wouldn’t have even tried one if I didn’t hate having stuff in my hands while running. Lately, I’ve been mapping out long run courses that go by a convenience store close to my turnaround point. I’ll make sure I’m good and hydrated, head out the door with a couple of bucks in my shell, and zip in for a quick apple juice at the halfway point. An alternative would be a to join a running group that sets up aid stations for Saturday long runs. I know there are a few. I have been tempted to bandit their offerings at times on the Mill Creek trail, but so far my conscience has won out. Another way is to drop something at your turnaround point in advance of your run. I’ve done that too. Anything to avoid weight in my hands. It just gives me the feeling that I am unnaturally altering my form when I’m lugging a bottle or two around.