By Scott Douglas
Pinebury founder Kyle Rancourt recently detailed why Maine’s Acadia National Park is a cyclist’s dream. Runners feel similarly. Of all the places I’ve run—forest trails in Sweden, red clay roads in Kenya, ancient paths in the Himalayan foothills—the carriage roads of Acadia appear in my mind’s eye when I think, “If I could be there right now, all would be well.”
But pining for perfection has a price: It can keep you from appreciating the good routes you could be on today. After all, being a dedicated cyclist, runner, or other outdoor enthusiast means, well, getting outdoors most days. And that’s usually going to happen close to home, work, or school. I’ve had 15 addresses in six states since becoming a runner 44 years ago. I can think of routes from each location that, though they might never be served up as Instagram eye candy, were wonderful places to train. You can probably do the same.
I would even argue that these courses should be held more dear than the outing-of-a-lifetime ilk. Our daily routes accrue meaning over time, as we get to know every rise in the road and twist on the trail, as we hone our craft and learn about ourselves, and as we create memories of solo and social outings. These are the loops where the day-to-day magic happens. Cherish them!
We’re lucky to have reason to get to know these places. Most people have scant intimate connection to their immediate surroundings. On the morning of my brother’s college graduation, I ran out 25 minutes from his frat house, turned around, and ran back. Afterward, I commented on how beautiful that stretch along the stream was. My brother was unfamiliar with it. In one morning, I’d experienced something he hadn’t in four years. The same has happened when I’ve moved to a new area and soon find myself telling long-time residents about a nice trail two miles away.
Again, I love dream locales. I can’t wait to explore the Scottish highlands for the first time this fall. But I’m putting just as much thought into where to go tomorrow to have a great run right out my door.
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