Marathon Monday has now come and gone, and because you’re an avid reader of this column, you learned about the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT) and coach Don last week. I’m happy to report that the TMT did great as always, with many smiles, hugs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches being passed out at mile 9. Tufts should be proud of yet another year of stellar participation in distance running’s most storied event.
Now that you’re inspired by both my moving prose and watching the marathon on Monday, you probably want to go out and give running a try for yourself. That is an awesome idea, and Somerville has a bunch of great options to test your cardio. But before you lace up, your mans Townie Tim needs to get a few things out there when it comes to running. It seems pretty simple to just throw on some trainers and scamper out of the dorm, but I have a few tips that will make your new footslogging interest integrate smoothly into the community.
First, you have to remember that there are other people out there walking dogs, driving cars, unloading boxes and wrangling toddlers. You have to share the roads and sidewalks. I know that while running you can get in the zone, and people seem to be moving at a snail’s pace, but you have to be aware of your surroundings. If you happen to be one of the folks driving around Somerville, do your best to notice runners because they can be dumb about running into the street. This is especially true with crosswalks. I’ve been running around Somerville for three years, and I still run out into traffic like an idiot. No pace is worth an unsafe situation.
For this reason, I also have a really unpopular piece of advice for runners: Do not listen to music. This sounds nuts, I know. Music can distract from your surroundings, which can be really unsafe, but it also prevents you from completely embracing the activity. Quite frankly, you are missing about 50% of the pleasure of running if you are blocking out the sounds of your environment. I’ve found that ever since I stopped listening to music, I’ve significantly increased my enjoyment of running. I am always saying that I need to clear my head or get a chance to reflect on certain feelings, and undistracted running has become that outlet. If this is too much of a step, try switching to podcasts first.
Now that you’re ready to get out there, you may be wondering where to go. The good news is that Somerville is the start of the Community Path, which is a dedicated walking path that starts near Lowell Street, goes through Davis Square and continues about 20 miles northwest through Arlington. You can also take a route off the Community Path to Fresh Pond in Cambridge or head down to the Charles River Esplanade for a really long run. There are no bad options, but remember to bring some water along. I look forward to seeing you out there.