I get it. Treadmills are not seen as the allies of dedicated runners. We can be downright hostile to their monotony, even at Anywhere5K. But hold off on your ridicule for a second and think about what really matters — getting your feet moving. An outright rejection of the treadmill restricts the times and dates when running is feasible. Keep it in your back pocket as an alternative, and there’s no day (no matter how cold) and no time (no matter how dark) when running isn’t an option using simple gear.
A few years back I was working a job with irregular hours. I had no money for proper gear to run at night or in the cold. The result: I stopped running on a regular basis, gained 25 pounds, and decided to make friends with the treadmill. Now my weight is back under control and my work hours saner, but the treadmill remains to ensure I never fall off the wagon. Yes, the monotony of running in place can be brutal. But I’ve picked up a few tips along the way. Allow me to share.
Running is fun. Racing is stressful.
Or it’s thrilling, if you’re prepared.
We’ve all been there, facing the jitters of a timed race after weeks or even months of training. It’s the difference between sending out resumes and sitting in for a job interview, or socializing at a bar and going out on a first date. Now there are expectations, measurements, and the chance at falling flat.
But a little mental prep goes a long way to making that first race enjoyable. Whether you’re running an Anywhere5K on your own or a traditional 5K with thousands of other participants, here are some tips to remove the nerves.
Lake Johnson Greenway in Raleigh. Photo by Brook Corwin
Whether you’re running an Anywhere5K or training for your next race, it’s worth finding a nearby greenway. These paved, off-the-motorway, and usually scenic trails ensure you get a clearly defined route without the hassle of nearby traffic. I’m the guy who advocated running on treadmills during the winter. But it’s warm now. Greenways are clearly the better choice.
That’s assuming your city sees their value.
Like parks and ballfields, greenways take planning and resources to build. I’ve run Anywhere5Ks in a bunch of North Carolina cities, and the greenway choices vary considerably. The following are my greenway grades based on personal running experience and the municipality’s official greenway maps. They’re purely subjective, so take issue in the comments if you disagree. And if you live outside North Carolina, compare the cities where you live to those listed here. Are they better or worse?
The hardest part about my inaugural Anywhere5K wasn’t finishing the run, it was picking the route.
With every nearby trail and roadway in play, how do you filter down the hundreds of options into the perfect one for a race? What’s needed is a 5K route checklist, which I developed while making my choice for Saturday’s run.
I couldn’t be happier with my eventual selection of Salem Lake Trail. Not only was my time a personal best for the past 10 years, it eclipsed by more than a minute any other organized 5K race. Some of the credit for that goes to better training. Some goes to the motivation of being part of the Anywhere5K community. Some goes to not being boxed in behind hundreds of slow runners at the start.
But much of the credit goes to the route. Here’s the five criteria I used:
To most, especially those who wake up extra early to do it, running is all about energy. Hit the pavement, get the blood pumping, and have your adrenaline flowing in time for work to begin. Works great, if you can pry yourself out of bed in time.
But for those of us who prefer running after work, there’s another benefit to a good run:
therapy for working out the problems of that day getting prepared for a good night’s sleep. It’s common sense that we need a good sleep to run. What we sometimes forget is that we often need a good run to sleep.
Here’s how it works. Temperature is key to regulating our sleeping habits, as it drops a degree or two while you’re snoozing (that’s why spicy foods are a no-no for late night, Taco Bell marketing campaigns be damned). A good workout raises our body temperature by a couple of degrees, so as our body cools down, we’re in the perfect state for a restful slumber.