I could run to the park, around, and back home in my sleep. Maybe not literally, but you know what I mean. I’m not even sure I want to know how many times I’ve done it. I love the route because there are fewer lights and streets to cross, plenty of space, fewer cars, lots of trees, drinking fountains and toilets, hills (up and down), flat places, and all of the other things that make the park such a fabulous place to run. But it is possible, I’ve found, to get a little tiny bit bored with it. To almost, barely, take it for granted. To forget about the loveliness of having a road free from cars and the freedom to push the double jogger without having to weave and squeeze through slow-moving pedestrians. It’s so easy to focus on the mile markers rather than the birds and trees and sunlight, and to zone out during the hill rather than enjoy pushing forward with the rest of runners who are tackling it the same time I am.

And that’s why it is nice, every now and then, to make myself remember those things by switching things up a little bit. When I feel like the old route is getting stale and my running is in a bit of a rut, sometimes I’ll do something crazy, like go around counterclockwise, rather than clockwise. It totally gets me because I realize that the hill is much longer going down than it is going up. And sometimes I do a figure-8, which adds on a mile or so, and means that I get to say hi to some people twice as we pass each other. And sometimes when I’m really so over the park, I’ll do something like run to Brooklyn Bridge with the boys. Usually it’s because I’m meeting Micah as he runs home from work, or possibly because I’m running other errands in the neighborhood, or taking the boys to Pier 6 Playground, but, I tell you, there is nothing that makes me more grateful for my park route than waiting for lights and running around pedestrians.

Maybe you have plenty of running routes in your area. Maybe you thrive on the routine of the same route at the same time every day. Maybe you have plenty of running buddies who keep it fresh and fabulous. But if you ever find yourself getting bored and ready to take a break from running, maybe all you need is a change of scenery.

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