I made a rookie mistake this weekend.
I had 10 miles on the agenda for Saturday. At this point in marathon training, 10 miles is considered “short,” so I didn’t give it much thought. However, I was away in Elk Mountain, Pa., visiting friends of my boyfriend’s. Elk Mountain isn’t very runner-friendly, due to narrow and windy roads and lack of sidewalks, plus they still had a significant amount of ice.
So, my boyfriend offered to drive me to Scranton (about half hour away) in the morning, so that I could log my miles, and he could meet an old friend for brunch.
And then, instead of — I don’t know, looking up a route, or looking at a map and attempting to plan one — I decided to just “wing it.”
On past trips to various cities, this has typically worked in my favor. I’ve been fortunate to be close to parks (like Central Park), boardwalks or state parks. So, on Saturday as we approached Scranton, I thought to myself, “I ran a marathon here! I can easily find some streets to run on!”
However, on Saturday, the streets weren’t blocked off for runners (obviously), and I had no route planned, so I basically screwed myself over. In addition to constantly running into dead-end roads, I had to deal with busy traffic, and thanks winter! I was greeted with 18 mph winds, with 25 mph wind gusts and a ton of black ice. I basically just gave up after running into my umpteenth “dead end” sign and ran in a very small circle for a while. It was painfully boring and I called it quits at 8.3 miles because I was so frustrated. (Don’t stress, I made up the other two miles on Sunday.)
Here’s what I should have done:
1. Download an app
Map My Run and Localeikki are just two of the apps that allow to map your route, share your route and review others’ routes. You can see how close the route is to your current location and adjust accordingly.
2. Email the local running store
I messed up here. When I got home, I looked it up and realized Scranton’s Running Company hosts Saturday morning runs. Talk about an epic fail, am I right? Even if they were only doing a few miles, I could have at least had company, and some idea of a route, instead of running up and down the same few streets. Even if they don’t have a running group, the store should be able to refer you to a route or group.
3. Check social media
Look for nearby running groups, such as the Road Runners clubs or scour Facebook and Twitter for some local clubs. Even if you don’t run with them, they should be able to help you find some run-friendly areas.
When desperate, ask anyone. Ask the front desk at the hotel, a gas station clerk, your waitress and so forth. Even if they don’t personally run, chances are they probably know someone who does and may be able to help you.
How do you find routes when out of town?