Your knees don’t like the concrete sidewalk. You’re tired of dodging the traffic on the road, and you’re not sure where to find a trail nearby. if so, then welcome to the world of running on synthetic materials, better known as a track. You’ve seen it: you probably became familiar with it in high school, runner or not. But the days of hating the timed mile for school awards are over, you’re ready to get into running, need a new place to do it, or you’re simply tired of never knowing how far or fast you’re going.
Tracks are appealing for many reasons, but, as with any running locale, there are certain considerations which you must make before letting your feet pound the pavement. Like running on any other surface or in any other venue, there are pros and cons for running on a track.
Pros of Running on a Track
1. Soft Material: While the running surface isn’t as soft as grass, it’s the next best thing to a good composite trail: It’s absorbent, stable and won’t leave your knees crying in the night.
2. Smooth Surface: Grass comes with holes, be they from water run off or overzealous groundhogs, you’re bound to run into one. So, if you decide to head out to a track, you should be obstruction free: no branches, no holes, no sidewalk cracks, and not a single car mirror to run into if you’re not paying attention.
3. Expense: You should be able to find a local track where you can run for free. The exception may be a privately owned track by an organization or gym. But, if you look around enough, you should find a locale where your hard earned tax dollars have been put to good use. If you’re running on track, you shouldn’t be paying for anything other than shoes.
4. Distance: You’ll have the easiest time calculating your distance on the track, and keeping time will be easier than ever. When running on a track, you won’t have to worry about guessing that last quarter mile.
Cons of Running on a Track
1. You’re Not Alone: It will depend on the time of day, but if you’re the kind of person who wants to run alone without onlookers, understand that tracks are a popular place and you aren’t the only one with the idea. Running on a track means you will have others, and you have those pesky walkers in the inner lane.
2. Practice: Similar to the above, but larger in scope, you may find yourself in the middle of a little league practice or running around the track with a front row seat for your old high school’s football team practice. You’ll need to plan your time accordingly.
3. Timing: Even public tracks are not always open at all hours. You should be safe in the mornings and into the late evening, but if you’re up before sun remember that you may find the locale locked.
4. Nothing Changes: It’s nice to be out on a trail and seeing a sunrise. You will certainly not find that on a track. It’s nice knowing your distance, but you’ll find one morning that running around in the same circle may not be enough for you on the inspiration front.
Whether you decide to step onto the road, the sidewalk or a trail, the important thing is to run. Tracks offer you a great venue to run on or simply a great place to get a grip on your run times. You’ll have to weigh your own personal needs when picking a place for your running, but a track can definitely be the place for certain occasions or an all time routine.