Tomorrow I will run my second half marathon in Washington, D.C. My wife will run her first full marathon, which is more impressive and also makes it hard for me to complain about my long training runs.
Leading up to this half marathon, I’ve obviously done a lot of training runs. And, because I get bored on runs, I try to mix up my routes to give me something else to look at and my mind something else to think about — other than the pain in my legs and my labored breathing.
So here are my favorite places to run around town, based on what distance I’m trying to run.
3 miles or less: The Charlotte Rail Trail
For half of it, assuming you do an out-and-back, you’re looking at the uptown skyline. And there are two breweries on the trail (and a couple more not far from it.)
If you start at Triple C Brewing and run to Morehead, it’s about 2 miles, so you can do a 3-4 mile out-and-back and hit Triple C after. Like this:
Or, if you can’t wait that long, Sycamore Brewing is about a mile down the trail from Triple C.
4-6 miles: McAlpine Creek Greenway
This one gets bonus points for being the closest to my house and also because it has a lot of running options. You can start either at the McAlpine Creek Park on Monroe Road or at the head of the trail on Sardis Road.
The main trail goes about four miles from Sardis to Harris Boulevard, but you’ve got multiple loop options off of the main trail to add distance and variety, including the 5K course near the park. There’s also a good mix of paved and unpaved surface.
Here’s a nearly 6-mile route from Sardis Road, using part of the 5K course and coming back:
7-12 miles: Four Mile Creek/McMullen Creek/Lower McAlpine Creek Greenways
This is my favorite trail for long runs because it’s … long. It winds nearly six miles from Rea Road in Piper Glen to Pineville-Matthews Road near Charlotte Catholic High.
It’s also the most visually interesting greenway: Not only are you running through woods, but you run on boardwalks over wetland areas that are teeming with wildlife.
Here’s what it looks like if you do an out-and-back on the greenway:
More than 12 miles: South End/Dilworth/Myers Park area
I had to ask my wife for help on this one, since i haven’t run more than 12 miles in my training.
She did her longest runs of marathon training in these neighborhoods because (1) It’s not super hilly (2) Pretty good sidewalks (3) Good scenery (houses and parks) and (4) Many neighborhoods so it’s easy to wind through streets and run a long distance.
You can also jump on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and run through Freedom Park.
Here’s a 16.5-mile route to try:
Photos: Corey Inscoe