Sunday, June 2, 2013

Which side should you run on a bike trail?

My halfway point on the northern trail
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 6.5 miles

I managed to get out of the house fairly early this morning and got to Bethpage just after 7:00 AM. The heat was moderate at that time and conditions were pleasant at the start. I'd taken along the cooling bandanna in anticipation of the rapidly increasing temperature and I think it helped. The morning sun was low enough to be blocked by the trees, so the first miles on the northern bike path were well shaded.

As I made my way up the hill leading to the trail head, I thought about the New Hyde Park 8K that was due to start at 8:30. I've run the last four races, but I decided to skip it this year. I didn't really like my experience in 2012. It's a fine event that I've enjoyed in the past, but I felt it was time for a change. Besides that, I don't feel prepared for competitive running right now.

My first steps on the bike trail felt odd. Had someone told me that I'd gained 30 lbs. overnight, I probably would have believed them. It was Virtual Heaviness Syndrome, as explained here in simple terms. I didn't feel especially tired or low on energy, my body just felt heavy. I figured I'd propel myself along and hope for the best.

There were a surprising number of cyclists on the trail and a smaller number of runners and walkers. I got plenty of "on your left!" warnings from approaching bikers. I began to wonder, after all these years, whether I should be running on the left side of the bike path, just like on the road. After studying the other runners and walkers, I decided there are no rules, but people generally keep to the right. I read later that runners should stay to the far left, but I think that person had a cycling-centric view. Probably wishful thinking, rather than accepted practice.

I was originally planning to run all the way to Washington Ave. and turn around, but that would have put me past 7 miles (out and back) and I wasn't looking to do that today. Instead, I turned around where the trail showed 3.1 miles, making my total run (including segments from the trail to the lot) 6.5 miles. I ended up gaining strength as the run went on and finished strong.

I really like the the Bethpage trail because the out and back route makes base run distances seem more manageable. There are lots of hills and you feel like you're getting a workout, but it's never intolerable. I was able to stay relatively cool today by going early, but by mid summer it will be tough going. Fortunately, the wooded trails run directly below and/or adjacent to the paved trail, so I'll be able to duck onto the dirt paths for some relief from the sun.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks TPP. I felt that I needed to get at least 6 miles in to help build my base. But it's getting hot out there!

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  2. I was there today too, but much later! I really enjoyed it! I ran on the right side. Is this correct?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've concluded that the right side is best. Most people default to the right and since it's a multi-use path, cyclists should be watching out for runners and walkers on that side.

      Another reason I like to run on the right on the bike trail is that it allows me to counter balance all that left side running I do on the road.

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