2013-09-23

Running While Lost

I'm on the road today, and for the rest of the week. Because I had an afternoon flight, I was doubtful that I would even have a chance to work out today. Hence, you did not see a "Workout of the Day" appear on my blog this morning, even though I'm back from vacation and ready to hit the gym (and the road) hard again.

I arrived at my destination right on schedule, and continued to believe that I lacked enough time to get a workout in. But after getting settled in my hotel room I realized that I had some time to explore the neighborhoods around my hotel. I wanted to find a grocery store so that I could commit to eating healthy food during my stay. I wanted to find a bus stop, and bus tickets. I wanted to know my way around.

...And I still had some time before dinner. So I figured, Why not? I'll strap on my running shoes and have a look around. I hit the road with my head held high, searching the horizon and peering down side-streets to see what I could see.

Then something happened that hasn't happened to me in years. I got kind of lost.

Now, back in the day I used to run around in strange neighborhoods, hoping to get myself lost so that I could try to find my way back home again. It was a way to keep my workout interesting because, not only did I have to keep running no matter what, I also had to keep a mental picture of where I was and how I'd return. It also gave me the experience of seeing some totally new places, even if they were just little communities hidden from the view of all my "usual routes."

One runs differently when one is lost. Rather than barreling down the street at breakneck speeds, one acts tentatively for a while, choosing turns based on their relative direction in relation to one's intended destination. One studies the landmarks more carefully, which causes that scenery which is usually in more direct view - houses, buildings, trees, etc. - to appear more foreign. One can accidentally run in circles. As the run wears on, one starts to get more tired and hungry, and so the desire to return home becomes more urgent. That urgency causes one to make mistakes and take ill-fated gambles, which can prove costly later on.

Running while lost is a totally different experience, and hence a welcome change from the daily grind of prescribed mileage.

So, that's what happened to me today. I got lost. I took a wrong turn and then ran with it, expecting that one bad decision to prove a minor mistake, and just circle around later. But in fact, the longer I stuck with my wrong turn and the resulting route, the further I got from my hotel.

It was great! I set out for a 30-minute run and came home 50 minutes later. I highly recommend this sort of run to those of you looking for a way to make things fresh again.