Since almost all runners are now using some sort of GPS device to track their runs, the route you travel has become much more visible. With this visibility has come some serious hate on the out-and-back route. An out-and-back (also know in some circles as a button-hook) is when you travel one way for half of your run, then flip and return from whence you came. The out-and-back has been called the lazy runner’s route, but here’s why this route doesn’t deserve all the flak it gets, plus some of its many practical applications.
If you’ve only got a short period of time to fit in your run, the out-and-back is your safest bet for being time efficient. While you can see more on a loop, you also run the risk of a wrong turn or unexpected delay. On the out-and-back, at least if something’s going to go wrong, you’ll know about it ahead of time (and can adjust your return time accordingly).
Great for windy days
On a windy day, starting your run into the wind and finishing with it at your back feels really good. This is easy to accomplish with an out-and-back route.
It’s easier to run on autopilot
On days when you just need to go for a run and think about nothing, the out-and-back is ideal. There’s nothing less mentally taxing than running in one direction for seven kilometres and then turning around.
Ideal for water bottle drop-off
Summer is here to stay, and while it provides some of the best running of the year, it’s also (obviously) the hottest. June, July and August are the three months when runners obsessively check the weather and plan their runs accordingly. If you’re heading out for a hot run right now, bringing water to drop along the route is a great way to avoid some serious heat exhaustion. An out-and-back facilitates the water drop-off nicely. Just bring a bottle you don’t care about much (in case it gets stolen), leave it a few kilometres into your run and drink up on your way back.
Actually, ideal for dropping almost anything
De-layering is one of the easiest ways to stay cool during the summer months. If you’ve put on a shirt that you don’t need anymore, just leave it behind a bench or tucked into a bush when you get too warm and grab it on your way home.