Last week I was stuck, brain freeze, writer’s block, or in runner’s vernacular, I hit the wall. And then I hit the trail, the Delaware Canal Tow Path, and ran north from Lumberville, PA through Point Pleasant. It worked, and I came home and wrote 10,000 Maniacs. So I went back to the towpath this week and ran South, an hour out and an hour back.
I picked up the alternative method for marathon training by accident many years ago. I was running a 25K along West River Drive on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia when a runner came up next to me. We began talking, and I realized he wasn’t even in the race. He was training for the Philly marathon. I asked him how far he was going and said three hours. It was the first time I’d ever gotten a response in time rather than distance, so I asked him about it. He told me his alternative to the conventional twenty-mile training run theory was to take a three-hour training run. Made sense to me and his method became my method.
Of course, all runners run a different pace and will cover different distances, but for me it works. Some years I’ll do the twenty-miler, but most years I just find a trail and go for three hours. The appealing feature of the timed run is that all you need is a scenic trail and some type of clock. Try it. Find a beautiful trail and walk, jog or run for a half hour, an hour, or three. I guarantee you will return a different person.
The scenic route this week was the towpath from Lumberville to New Hope. I hadn’t planned to run to New Hope, but it was a great day and I couldn’t stop. When I got to town and turned around I looked across the street and saw where I proposed to my wife thirty-five years ago outside the Bucks County Playhouse, and further down the street was the club where I used to misbehave with my buddies when I was single. A little further along the canal I passed the Bed & Breakfast our kids bought us a gift certificate to when we got snowed-in with about two feet of the white stuff. On the way back up to Lumberville I passed another Bed & Breakfast my wife and I escaped to the first time we went away overnight after we began our family. And then, finally, before I got back to my Jeep I passed one of our favorite fishing holes where I’d go with my kids when they were young.
Damn, I love that canal! To see more pictures of the Delaware Canal Tow Path South to New Hope click here.