Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Route Phobia

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem: I am afraid to try a run outside my neighborhood.  Heck, the only 5k I've ever run was practically in my backyard.  It's not the newness that scares me necessarily.  I love running in my neighborhood and the adjoining ones, and I always experiment with new routes within their boundaries.  But the thought of running outside their limits paralyzes me.

I run this stretch of road almost every time I lace up.

I can't explain it.  I've lived in this area for most of my life (save the 6 years I spent in college and graduate school), so I'm very familiar with a wide area outside my neighborhood.  I drive these roads all the time without batting an eyelash, and I see runners on them regularly.  But when it's time for me to run, I'm a homebody.  I've trapped myself within the limits of Princeton Heights, Southampton, and St. Louis Hills and can't bring myself to run outside their bounds.

I ran my first 10-miler a few weeks ago.  Because of my new route phobia, I ran every possible neighborhood loop to cover the distance.  It seems rather absurd to say that I ran 10 miles but was never more than 2 miles from my house.  But that's a fact.

I think the beauty of a long run is the chance to see more of the world, to cover more ground, and to run in new places.  But I'm stuck within my perceived boundaries and seemingly unable to break out.  I don't have a solution or even a strategy, but I'll keep working on it.  In the meantime, I'll continue to wear a path on my familiar, comfortable roads - and I'm okay with that.