As you may or may not know, I have been haunting a new neighborhood lately. One more urban, more crowded and certainly more interesting. I’ve come to this neighborhood with plans and hopes and fears and dreams. I have ventured out into this unknown…
Part of my plan for exploring this vastly unfamiliar area is to run. After my first (and last) 5K, I stopped running for a little while. I figured I could celebrate my small and insignificant victory by taking a break. When I tried to start back up again, I was out of shape and my knees were bothering me. I needed to start slowly and that is hard. All I wanted to do was pick up where I’d left off.
I’ve been swimming a little bit this summer instead, trying to build my muscles back up. I had bought this ridiculously-priced pool pass to the community pool near my parents’ house. Then I moved out of my parents’ house. Hindsight never fails.
So now, in my fabulous, unexplored new neighborhood, I’m starting to run again. More of a run-walk. A short slow jog followed by a long leisurely walk. Nevertheless! Here are seven things I love about running in a new place:
1. Sometimes I have no idea where I am. And then I keep going and I recognize a street and I do a little victory dance. As I run/walk/move along these streets I’m creating a map inside my head and adding to it every time, memorizing street names and intersections. Maybe someday I won’t need a GPS to get back to my own apartment.
2. It seems like I’m running faster. I am so unfamiliar with the area that I’ll be done with my normal 3-mile loop before I know it. A 35-minute run seems like 10. I’ll just be running along, looking at street signs, making a turn here or there, and boom. There’s my house again. It’s over already? Sweet!
3. You’re free to explore. When I ran at home, I knew my route and I knew how long it was. And actually, my route couldn’t change very much because there weren’t very many roads to choose from. But now, this place is a grid. I could do a big huge loop, or I could zig-zag back and forth, or I could go to a different neighborhood, or to the nearby park. I could run down one street for a mile and a half and then back, or I could run a tiny circle three times. All I’ve done so far is the big loop, but the fact is I could change it up. I might find a route I like better.
4. You see restaurants or shops you might want to try out. The great thing about being down here is there are so many places within walking distance. There are tons of restaurants and shops I haven’t been to yet and I never know when I might find some cute little place that I will just have to try.
5. You never know what– or who– you’ll see on your run. Yesterday, I ran past a cute old Victorian house, surrounded by a waist-high black iron fence. The usual yard-decorations, flowers and gnomes, were scattered throughout the grass. I’ve seen this house before. But this time there was a string quartet warming up on the front walkway and several groups of “guests” milling about with a waiter serving champagne. I admit, it was quite the spectacle– I almost ran right into some bystanders on the sidewalk.
6. You get a boost of confidence. At first I was nervous to go out by myself in a new place. I didn’t want to get lost and I didn’t want to get mugged. But I went out the first time and neither of those things happened. I went out the second time and I recognized more streets. I’m more confident now that I can break out of my comfort zone and explore these unfamiliar areas.
7. It relieves boredom. I’m in a new place, I’m on a new street, I’m out on my own. Suddenly running seems fun again! I should not be one to talk about boring sports–I’m a swimmer. But I think running is incredibly boring. And part of the reason is probably that I’m not very good at it. But I just really am not a fan. I try to run because it gives me something to do and it keeps me in shape. So now that I get to mix it up a little bit, I have a brief time where running will actually be interesting.
I don’t know how long I’ll be into this whole running thing. I’m hoping I can find an affordable gym soon. Or perhaps one of the many yoga studios nearby will run a membership special. Because I’m definitely not a cold-weather, run-in-the-winter, slop-through-six-inches-of-snow person. The warm summer months don’t last forever. But for now, I’d say this “running thing” is going pretty well.