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Summer Looped Course: End with Hills or Exposure? (Read 70 times)

Julia1971


    I run a looped 17-mile  course frequently for my long run and have been going back-and-forth about whether it makes sense to run it clockwise or counter-clockwise in the summer.  (For those in the DMV area, I'm talking about the Arlington Loop.)

     

    If I run clockwise, I get the hilly portion of the loop (about 4 or 5 miles) over early, which is great!  But then during the later miles, I'm completely exposed to sun and tend to wilt.  Also, water fountains are few and far between.

     

    If I run it counter-clockwise, the route is flat early and the sun isn't as brutal.  However, hills at the end make the run much harder.  And, my goal race (London) is pretty flat.  Also, there are water fountains on the hilly section of rail-trail and occasional patches of shade.

     

    So, I'm putting this question to you all.  Which direction would you go?

    darkwave


    Mother of Cats

      A...Despite living right on the Arlington loop (in the middle of the hilly part) I don't do the 17 mile loop.  So that tells you my general opinion on it.  Smile

       

      B) If I was progressing the run I would want to finish on the flatter part unless I was racing a hilly marathon.  For an even paced long run, I think I'd go with the hilly finish both because of the shade and water and because having the hills at the end would effectively make it a progressive run.

       

      C) Another thing that always plays into my mind - where do the at-grade crossings fall within the run.   I like to plan out my long runs so that my potential interactions with cars are early in the run, when I'm mentally fresh.  I would prefer to avoid crossing the Rosslyn Intersection of Doom when I'm tired and more likely to make a bad judgment call.

       

      Edit:  If I was starting at Barcroft like your map shows, I'd definitely go counter-clockwise - that way the intersections that I think are highest risk (Walter Reed, Shirlington Road, Rosslyn) would all be done when I was still pretty fresh.

      Everyone's gotta running blog; I'm the only one with a POOL-RUNNING blog.

       

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      wcrunner2


      Are we there, yet?

        Find a shorter loop that you can run multiple times.  In the summer heat and humidity I always make sure I have a bailout point(s) in case I start developing heat exhaustion symptoms.

         2021 Races:

             09/08/21 - One Day at the Fair 12-Hour (tentative)

             11/20/21 - Crooked Road 24

         

        CanadianMeg


        Kicking Asphalt for 2021

          Are you talking one run or in general? I would likely alternate directions bc I think there are benefits both ways. Clockwise one weekend, counter clockwise the next time.

          Half Fanatic #9292. 

          Julia1971


            A...Despite living right on the Arlington loop (in the middle of the hilly part) I don't do the 17 mile loop.  So that tells you my general opinion on it.  Smile

             

            B) If I was progressing the run I would want to finish on the flatter part unless I was racing a hilly marathon.  For an even paced long run, I think I'd go with the hilly finish both because of the shade and water and because having the hills at the end would effectively make it a progressive run.

             

            C) Another thing that always plays into my mind - where do the at-grade crossings fall within the run.   I like to plan out my long runs so that my potential interactions with cars are early in the run, when I'm mentally fresh.  I would prefer to avoid crossing the Rosslyn Intersection of Doom when I'm tired and more likely to make a bad judgment call.

             

            Edit:  If I was starting at Barcroft like your map shows, I'd definitely go counter-clockwise - that way the intersections that I think are highest risk (Walter Reed, Shirlington Road, Rosslyn) would all be done when I was still pretty fresh.

             

            Ah ha!  So, that's why we rarely have fly-bys on the Custis.  I agree with everything here.  Yeah, I tend to go counter clockwise from where I am in the Columbia Pike/Barcroft-area but have been rethinking it lately because I've been struggling on the hills and since London is flat, was questioning why I was torturing myself.  But then I ran the opposite direction last week and it wasn't much better.  There isn't an ounce of shade on Four Mile Run Trail from the Mount Vernon Trail to Shirligton.  It's brutal.

            Julia1971


              Find a shorter loop that you can run multiple times.  In the summer heat and humidity I always make sure I have a bailout point(s) in case I start developing heat exhaustion symptoms.

               

              Good suggestion.  I tend not to do well doing multiple loops - I give myself excuses to quit - but could give it a try.  Maybe a figure 8 type course could fool me.

              Julia1971


                Are you talking one run or in general? I would likely alternate directions bc I think there are benefits both ways. Clockwise one weekend, counter clockwise the next time.

                 

                Hmm.  I guess I meant "one run" because in the winter, I alternate directions.  I think hills at the end of a long run are great for building leg strength but it's also good to finish flat if I want a fast-finish workout.  In the summer, it's usually 80 degrees and high humidity at the end of my long runs so things like shade and access to water come into play more.

                  Ideally I prefer the hills mid-run, you get time to warm up before you get to them and then know you have an easy finish on the way back. However, I do have like a 16 mile run that I have tried and failed to run the distance in 90 degree heat. That course has climbs totaling 350 feet from mile 8 to mile 11 and at least twice I was so wiped out by the time I got past the hills and I had to walk the remaining distance! So for that reason I voted for do the hills first before the heat and distance saps your endurance and you end up walking. The sensible alternative is to wake up early and start the run just before sunrise. The sun will not be so direct and the air will still be cooler during the exposed part of the run, regardless of which way you run the course!

                  "My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” 

                  Julia1971


                    The sensible alternative is to wake up early and start the run just before sunrise. The sun will not be so direct and the air will still be cooler during the exposed part of the run, regardless of which way you run the course!

                     

                    For some reason, getting up and out the door has been a struggle for the past few summers but yeah, this would definitely help.