Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cross-training across Des Moines

I haven't run the past two days, but it's OK — recovery days are also reconnaissance days, as it turns out.

On Thursday I again joined the Scheels bike group for a 30ish-mile ride (my total distance was 33.5 miles, but that includes biking to the meeting place and peeling off to go directly home at the end).

This group serves a couple of purposes for me: socializing; challenging myself in something at which I actually can improve; and, duh, guiding me through the Des Moines trail system ... in particular, showing me a fast way to access a nearby trail, without making me read a map.

With a slower pace and better weather, I had more mental energy to spend on observing the trail, as opposed to gluing my eyes to the next-to-last cyclist's wheel. The trees, the creek, the gentle breeze were all so refreshing and energizing as we whizzed through at 15 mph. And it hit me — why the heck was I running on shade-free sidewalks, especially when the sun was out?

Maybe, in addition to the timing switches I've been considering, I should consider changing locations, to the forested valley through which the bike group leads me. It's less than two miles from my complex; a full-grown (mentally full-grown) adult should be able to manage her time adequately enough to make a cool run there happen.

Friday, I took advantage of my early-bird downtown parking spot to stroll over to the Des Moines Arts Festival after work. (Yep, I counted that, plus a short morning errand, toward my 1,000-mile goal. Every mile, and every mile increment, counts.)

One of the timing switches I've been considering is incorporating more evening runs into my routine. On Friday and Saturday nights, I'm off work early, leaving me time to head home, eat, digest and then exercise while it's still light. Other days, when I leave at 9 p.m., I don't have that luxury — but it occurred to me that I could stave off both dehydration/heat stroke and running route boredom by bringing running gear to work and heading out right away.

The link between this and the art festival: My co-worker mentioned, as we passed the Western Gateway Park sculptures, how beautiful it is when the pieces are illuminated at night. Aha! A new, well-lit place to run!

I feel very satisfied with this cross-training/recovery combination.

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