I find myself in a strange situation while running. As most people who run regularly I am used to running on the shoulders of roads, sidewalks, greenbelts (or greenways) and some trails. I have run in the woods around Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee and rarely in large cities like Richmond, Dallas and Washington D.C. but now I am transitioning into a mainly urban runner. I know that to most people running is running but there are several subtle and not so subtle differences that I am only starting to learn.
The first one is the starts and stops associated with urban street running. One of the true joys of running is when you are able to “lose” yourself in a run. Running on a trail, on the shoulder of a non busy road or even through a small town one is able to get lost in the rhythm of the run and within their own mind. Some people call this being in the zone but all I know is when it happens the miles and time fly by and you find yourself farther and later than you ever dreamed you would go. The first time or two I ran after moving I went to a local street I had seen several runners on and found myself stopping at busy intersections, awaiting the chance to dash across and thinking how on earth in this environment can anyone get in a rhythm? The answer started to come a couple of days later as I found myself aware of the traffic but able to still maintain the feel of the run. A simple little adjustment in mind set was all that was needed and suddenly I wasn’t letting such things disturb me.
The second thing was the lack of a good place to run such as the greenbelts in Kingsport or Big Stone and the Guest River Gorge to name a few. These are all great examples of places to go and run for long distances in shaded solitude. In the heat of the day or in the crisp cool times there is nothing like the beauty of the wooded trails. On line Knoxville boast of miles of Greenways but the few I have found seem to be short paved paths along downtown roads and interstate highways with little to offer in the way of trees, shade or solitude. This changed when I was directed to the Where to Run page on the Knoxville Track Club website by someone at Runners Market.
The closest place to the house is called Concord Park and the website said it offered several miles of wooded trails. When I looked at a map I was doubtful because it seemed very small but still decide to give it a shot. I was surprised to find a very challenging trail system that twisted and turned upon itself as it climbed and dropped on 10 to 20 degree hills. I was quickly pouring the sweat and muddy as I climbed up and down the wooded trails and I know I will be back again soon. Even better, the web page told of several other places within a short drive that offer more than enough options to keep me occupied for months to come. There is even one place called Black Oak Ridge that has 40 miles of paved and graveled paths!
The point of it all is whether you find yourself in a large city, a mid-sized one like me or a smaller city or town, there are always options to walk, run or bike. If you are unsure of where to go ask someone you know that runs, ask at a running or biking store, at a gym or look online for a group such as the Pennington Pavement Pounders, State Of Franklin Track Club, Knoxville Track Club or Fayetteville Running Club. You will be pleasantly shocked at how helpful they will be. I have never, from the time I was 370 pounds until now found anyone that was not very helpful when asked.