On Sunday afternoon I was able to walk on one of the trails from my list of places I haven’t been. I did the 6 mile run on Friday and wanted to take it easy for a couple of days to give my knees and legs a break so I thought it would be a great time to visit a new to me trail and take in the sights around it. The drive to the trail was about 15 minutes and surprisingly finding a place to park was not an issue. There are several entrances onto the trail I picked one, merged right and was on my way to a new experience.
I found that the entrance I chose was nearly in the middle of the trail. I walked about a mile absorbing the sounds of the water and creatures and the site of various rocks and trees before the path ended at another parking area. I took note of the landmarks near this parking lot so that I could maybe start at this end for future visits. I then headed back North to see what was to the left side of my entry point. After going about another mile to the north and passing plenty of other pedestrians I came upon another merge in the path. I explored these parts of trail and pictured myself being there early in the morning on a warm day running down the path, getting around the obstacles and enjoying the scenery.
I chose to visit this trail on a walk day so that I could get to know the path. I wanted to get a good look at the everything around me and learn the nature of the trial and the surroundings. The first time I run a new course I am open to distractions due to my visual nature of wanting to take in all of what I see at once and process it immediately. The distractions can cause me to slow down and unnecessarily change my stride. I also get thrown a little on a new path by thinking about which way to turn and whether or not I will get in the number of miles I desire with my choice.
When I am running, I go into zone I am not focused on the turns and landmarks or how far down a path I should go if I am familiar with the path. Being able to walk a trail or drive through the streets I plan to run on and become familiar with the area and the amount of people that frequent the area can help me with getting into a zone and staying there during my runs. While I am in the zone, I am more aware of being safe and my mind is on my breathing and stride until the moment even those thoughts fade into the background and I begin to take in and enjoy my surroundings without feeling a need to search the area.
Becoming familiar with the place or area you are planning to exercise at is an important part of the preparation. If you cannot visit or drive through the area a few times prior to going there you should at least find some information about the area from city websites or the people who have visited the place or area. Map the area out especially if you are outdoors. If not for safety and a better experience do it to know where to park, where to use facilities, and how to get back to civilization it you happen to journey far away.
There is fun in spontaneity and being able to go by instinct is a gift, but don’t be afraid of a preparation. Being prepared may actually allow you to have more freedom in your choices and on your journey.