Having 2 or 3 “no need to think about where you’re going” runs are what I call Utility Runs. I can literally walk outside my door and do a 3 mile, 4 mile, 4.5 mile, or even just a 2 mile “I don’t have time but can’t imagine my day without going for a run” route. Having these routes mapped out ahead of time make it so much easier to get out of the door at 6:00am. It takes the thinking and guesswork out of my workout.
I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that proves that if you have to think too much about or put too much effort in getting out of the door to work out, you won’t do it. By having your own Utility Run(s) at the ready will greatly increase the chances that you’ll get out of the house for that run.
Sounds like a solid plan, right? But not sure where to start?
Before I had a fancy smart phone or other tracking gadgets I did it ‘old school’. I recommend this because a) driving makes this a very fast task and b)you’ll be able to see where you can make the run longer while not actually running. You may think this is nuts, but trust me.
Get in your car. Click your odometer to zero (or use your Garmin, iPhone or other gadget to track your mileage).
Drive from your street around your neighborhood in a big loop. Don’t go directly around the neighboring streets, drive past a few streets, go back a few streets, stretch the loop. Try and make a 2 mile loop from door to door.
Now set your odometer to zero again and drive 2 miles straight away. Maybe to the local high school, mall, restaurant or other landmark? That’s your 4 mile out and back. See how this works?
You can also have Utility Runs based on time. Maybe you don’t care about distance but have a goal to run 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. Running 15 minutes away from your house and then coming back is an easy way to get the run in without having to think too hard.
I would highly recommend that you avoid a route that sends you out a half mile then coming back towards your house and heading a half mile in the other direction. Why? The house is warm, you are tired, you may have to use the bathroom, you realize that you don’t have as much time as you thought; the paper is getting wet in the rain, etc., etc., etc.
While I rely on these runs during the week, I do not run these routes on the weekend. Weekend running is for trails, bike paths along the bay, fire roads along the hilltops, and other more interesting places. Save the Utility Runs for your weekday, “gotta get it done” runs.
Now go run!