Dare to Compare the Sequel: In Search of Zen

I’m the one who is supposed to be dishing out the training tips here. But I’ve learned a lot about running since I started writing this blog in the middle of April.

I hadn’t heard of mapmyrun.com before. I thought the Mizuno people made baseball equipment, but thanks to suggestions from readers I now am the happy owner of their running shoes. And as the weather heats up, I’m glad to have noted a tip that there are running socks available that do a better job than cotton of wicking away dampness.

A few blogs ago I solicited nominations for favorite three-mile runs from readers with the idea I would run the course and compare it to my familiar hilly trip through my neighborhood, Ansley Park.

My thought was I would compare the degree of difficulty and scenic factor. That’s essentially what I did in the first installment about a suggested course near downtown Decatur.

I’ve been adding length to my runs the past two weekends, sticking with the schedule set out in the Jeff Galloway 10K training plan. Last Saturday I took MARTA to the Buckhead rail station and ran five-plus miles home down Peachtree.

I felt good enough the next morning to research this installment of Dare-to-Compare. Several readers nominated trails in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. There are some good ones near the northern section of I-285. I picked Johnson Ferry because I’m familiar with the park. When I was younger and the river was cleaner I used to launch rafts from the ramp I’m standing on in the photo.

I have friends who think nothing of driving more than an hour round trip for the serene experience of running trails along the Hooch. They talk up the Zen experience of running down wooded trails. They say they are avoiding the wear and tear on knees and ankles that comes with running on hard surfaces.


I was ready to experience the Zen. Over about four miles of trails I practically had the park to myself. It was pleasant enough, but I wouldn’t say it was spiritually uplifting compared to my trek down Peachtree the day before. Meh.

I usually run on concrete sidewalks. Some people wince when I tell them that. I know I’m lucky not to have sore joints, but I don’t. So running on hard surfaces hasn’t been an issue for me. So far.

Do you have a strong preference for running on trails or ovals, versus running on asphalt, or concrete?

In June, the third installment of Dare-to-Compare is coming to an ajc.com blog near you. Dare me to try your favorite three-mile run and I might just take you up on it.

3 comments Add your comment

anonymous coward

May 18th, 2010
7:32 pm

I’ve had problems with my ankles running on the trails near the river – I’ll step on an exposed root or rock and my ankle will fold over and that’s all she wrote for the day. I’ve done that often enough that I tend to stay away from trail running unless it’s something like a fire road or has a more predictable surface.

[...] Tuesday I was all too eager to write here about how I ran down Peachtree for five miles the Saturday before and then felt good enough the [...]

[...] and a Dare to Compare season wrap, all in one. The Dare to Compare challenge has prompted me to run through the woods near the Chattahoochee River and over concrete sidewalks near downtown Decatur. A couple of weeks [...]