As life slowly moves back toward some kind of normalcy, parks, tracks and trails are reopening across the country. For a couple of months, runners everywhere have been resigned to running on the road or on their treadmills. That’s finally changed, but now there’s another problem: the paradox of choice. Some change and variety for workouts was all that runners wanted during quarantine, but now that we’ve got it, it can be hard to decide which route to take—should we stay on the roads, find some trails or get a quick session in on the track? We’ve got some questions that will help you decide.
Do you have a lot of time?
We’re not all lucky enough to have trails or a track near our homes, so if you’re short for time, a road run might be your best bet. If your day’s wide open, consider taking a drive to the track or some trails.
What’s the temperature like?
If it’s hot and humid, you might want to stay close to home so you can circle back for water when needed. It’s certainly OK to go to the track or trails for a hot run, but just be sure to take lots of water and not to push it too hard.
Do you want to go fast?
Sometimes, all you want from a workout is to go fast. You can run fast on the road and trails, but the best place to get some speedwork in is on the track. If you feel the need for speed, that’s where you should go.
Are you bored with your regular routes?
Running the same route every day can get boring. If you need something new, we recommend finding some trails. Sure, you could mix things up with a track run, but you’ll see the same view every 400m. For a change of scenery, it’s best to go to the forest.
Do you mind getting dirty?
Sometimes it’s fun to just get muddy. If you don’t mind getting a bit dirty, head for the trails. If you’ve got new shoes or gear that you’d rather keep clean for a while, it might be best to stick to drier land.
How long do you want to run for?
Maybe the most important question of all: how long are you hoping to run today? If you’re looking to go for an hour or more, avoid the track (unless you have a specific workout to do there). Get on some trails and enjoy the fresh air for the hour or two outside. If you can’t make it to the trails, the road’s your next best option. But running 60 minutes around and around a track isn’t the most exciting of things to do, so explore a bit instead.