Running Doldrums of July

The last few years, it seems I get the running doldrums when the hot days of mid-summer arrive. This time I did something about it. I attended a running retreat at Lake Thomas in the sparsely populated northeast corner of Washington.

Resort groundsSeveral one-on-one sessions of wise running advice were provided by a top coaches with a long history of success. I found much inspiration in our discussions.Resort coach

One day, the coaches took myself and a few other runners to a nearby golf course. I rarely play golf, so I borrowed my mother’s clubs that she bought in the 1960’s.resort golfbag

The course charges $2 a round on weekdays, and $3 on weekends. Though I hit lots of grounders, sometimes I was able to hit it into the air.Resort teeing off

The course gets few players because of its remoteness. The greens are packed sand instead of grass. There’s a heavy metal pull-bar for smoothing the surface before you putt.resort putting

The coaches aren’t golfers, but they’re great at analyzing a situation and applying their knowledge and skills to something new. This coach got a hole-in-one on a 145-yard hole.resort hole in one

I took a few walks in the woods thinking how nice it’d be to live here and what great running routes I’d have. But it’s a long drive to the nearest grocery store, and it’d get pretty lonely, especially in winter.resort walk
Don’t know if my running doldrums will lift, but it was a good time being at the lake.

Paying to run

Running parks, modeled after dog parks in which dog owners pay to allow their pets to run free and unleashed, have opened recently in Atlanta, Eugene and Spokane. Like the dogs pictured below, runners experience camaraderie, friendship, and a chance to group up and sprint park image for blog

At first glance, paying a fee to run seems silly. Why pay when you can go almost anywhere and run for free? Surprisingly, running parks offer amenities that are attracting many runners, which has led to plans for more across the country.

Running parks charge according to how long you run. In my hometown of Spokane, a half hour is $10 with each additional half hour costing $5.

Long lines like this at the Spokane Runners Park are an everyday thing

Long lines like this at the Spokane Runners Park are an everyday thing.

What do you get for your money? Miles of well-maintained trails in a beautiful setting. Many electronic signs showing your pace and elapsed time. Park personnel stationed throughout the grounds who clap and cheer you on.

Because research has shown that running performance is improved by being in a good mood, a hired, professional comedian belts out hilarious one-liners in the warm-up area.

Three times daily, bulls are released onto the trails. In scenes similar to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, runners get an intense speed workout as they avoid being trampled or gored. To prevent serious injuries, foam sheaths cover the bulls’ horns and hooves.

At regular intervals, prizes are shot high into the air by a “prize cannon”. A parachute deploys, and as the prize drifts with the wind, runners race to snag the prize.

After the workout, runners exit the grounds to the sound of inspirational, I-got-it-done music punctuated by pre-recorded phrases such as You ran so fast today! Your workout was fantastic! and What you did today was amazing! This leaves customers feeling so good about themselves they can’t help giving each other back slaps, high fives, and chest bumps.