“Where are you running this weekend?”
The long run.
Whether you’re officially training for a specific race or just heading out for a little longer than usual, the long run is a staple of a runner’s week.
The problem is the same old routes can get soooooo boring. It’s not very fun if you know exactly what you’re going to see each step of the way. We asked some of our Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors to let us in on some of their favorite routes in the hopes of helping you mix it up and explore some new areas of Charlotte.
Chris Zuerner has a few options: “I typically find my long runs these days on either of two routes, down the Little Sugar Creek greenway or the back half of the CLT marathon course. I’m running Around the Crown in Sept, Boston in Oct, NYC in Nov, and the CLT marathon just a week later. Long runs for me are 18 right now, but will work up to 22 during the heart of the training block.”
He lives in Sedgefield, so it’s about 3.5 miles to the start of the Little Sugar Creek greenway (headed south) starting at Tyvola. “The greenway is nice, flat, shaded in areas, and oftentimes not very busy (especially early mornings for those fun Saturday long runs!!). It’s also nice now that the greenway extension is open all the way down to the Polk historic site in Pineville, about a 6.5 mile stretch”
Chris doesn’t not only not hate the back half of the Charlotte Marathon route, he also uses it as training! “I’m a stone’s throw from Southend, so I pop on the light rail at the New Bern light rail stop, take that basically into uptown and jump on the route from there. This long-run is very different from the Little Sugar Creek greenway, given its urban environment and challenging, rolling hills throughout. It’s always nice to practice on the actual course to experience firsthand what race day would entail.”
Joseph Smith also likes to use uptown as part of his long runs. “I usually park at the Scaleybark light rail stop and run the rail trail to Morehead, into uptown to 7th and take the light rail trail to optimist hall or further into Noda then back is 10-13 miles depending on when you turn back around.”
And how about South Park and Myers Park? “My favorite long run starts at the Taj Ma’Teeter on Colony. From there, I run up Colony towards the Booty loop, hop on the Greenway, and can run for as long as I want before looping back. This is a great run for shorter days, too, and is always so pretty. I’m not training for anything specific (and I rarely am!); I just run for fun”, says Meg Taylor.
If out and backs are your thing, how about our lovely greenways? That’s where CJ Langely goes. He hits up the Mallard Creek and Toby Creek Greenway for about 18, but the best thing about out and backs is that you can make them as long as you want. For this one, he enters the greenway via Fairlea Road off Prosperity Church Road and runs all the way to UNCC. One of the good things about greenway runs is that there are great places to park. For this one, check out the Stonebridge Church parking lot and the RFYL University parking lot.
Another one of CJ’s favorites is on the Highland Creek Parkway. He can get 7 miles of rolling hills here and parks at the Ridge Middle School parking lot.
Tired of the pavement? How about hitting some trails for a long one? The US Whitewater Center has plenty of miles to choose from, and our favorite is Beast…we mean… East Main plus Lake Loop for about 10 shaded, hilly and rooty miles. Another way to do a long run on trails is to go by time, not miles. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t cover as much ground on them!
Wherever you log those long ones, remember that the benefit of the long-run has a lot to do with time on your feet, not always the speed at which you cover those miles. Coaches recommend a pace 60-90 seconds slower than your normal pace for them.