Parks, Recreation, and Running

A few months ago, my physical therapist and I came to the same conclusion that perhaps getting off the left side of the road might do my left leg some good. You see, since that leg is slightly shorter and weaker than my right leg, it ends up suffering a repetitive injury in the same location season after season. That location be the area inside my left calf, along the tibia. The camber of the road would be the likely culprit. Or at least, aiding and abetting the crime.

It made sense that running on the opposite side of the road might help to alleviate the stress on that leg. But, it is unadvisable to do so on vehicle laden roads. It is always best to run against traffic, rather than with it. So, the paved park running paths seems a better option. Not only is the camber on the paths somewhat reduced, but you can also run on the right side, which allows that left leg to align itself better with the right.

The amazing thing is, it is working. The leg pain has since diminished just about 99%. And I have been able to regain some strength and speed in my training.

Of course, there are negatives to park running as well. The worst being the amount of preperation and time it takes to get myself there. I’ve had to amass a running bag in which to toss all my junk that I need before I even step foot onto the pavement. I’ve had to stockpile clean towels in my car for both wiping the brow and for placing under the sweaty butt for the drive home. I have to leave a half an hour before I even plan to push start on my Runmeter. Then, I need to give myself a half hour to cool down, stretch, get back into the car, and get home. That is a lot of extra time.

Has it been worth it?

Yes! There is nothing better than being able to run pain free and I believe the park running has had much to do with my rehab. I’ll stick with it for as long as it takes to maintain the shape I need to be in, in order to continue training for Chicago. Yeah, it has soaked up a lot of extra time in my day, but I have to accept that. This is where I need to be.

Being forced to run the parks has it’s perks. Sure, having to drive somewhere just to run seems counterintuitive, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Here are the top 5 Park Perks on my list.

1. A water stop every few miles.

If you run a circular path, like a few of the routes in my local parks, there is always a water stop every XX miles. Obviously, running around in circles means you pass the same point any number of times. Not only can this point mimic a water stop, but it can double as a wipe the sweat off your brow stop, or a blow your nose stop, or a grab some more EnergyBits stop. It can also allow you to have more than one water bottle containing different formulas. Heck, you can even stash a Quest Bar if need be. What is this blissful water stop? My car! And every 3.5 miles, I have access to it. Brilliant!

One Stop Everything...

One Stop Everything…

2. Always a bathroom nearby.

Public parks means public facilities. This means a bathroom at the main path entrance, and again about a mile or two in. Therefore, a potty stop is available at least 10-20 minutes away in either direction.

Convenient potty stops!

Convenient potty stops!

3. Friendly, familiar faces.

It’s funny how humans can be creatures of habit. I run the parks every other day, typically Tuesday, Thursday, and a weekend day or two. If you arrive at largely the same time, you will find the same people. Some walk, some run, some bike, and some walk their dogs. But the familiarity of faces begins to grow on you, and suddenly, you have gone from the awkward situation of running with strangers, to a comfortable one. Basically, you’ve inherited silent running buddies!

4. Right side of the road running.

Yeah, I said it earlier. Running the parks means you take on the same rules of the road as automobile drivers. Stay to your right, unless passing another vehicle (pedestrian). Pretty simple. Camber problem solved!

Running on the right!

Running on the right!

5. NO traffic.

As in no vehicular traffic, other than a passing bicyclist or roller blader. Granted, they can be an obstacle all their own, but they aren’t 2000+ pounds of steel coming directly at you at 50 mph. I have to admit, as much as I love road running, I haven’t missed the close shave of the vehicles as they whiz by at ear ringing velocity.

So, the parks have proven themselves, run after run this summer, for both injury recovery and convenience in training. The process of getting there isn’t always convenient, but I’ve learned to swallow that pill. I’ll take what I can get. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

…as long as I don’t have to hug any trees.

Do you have a favorite park that you like to run?

One Response to Parks, Recreation, and Running

  1. Gina says:

    Good for you Girl! That’s so awesome that your pain has almost gone away! I’ve yet to try trail running – but soon will!!

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