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Garbage Runs

Gradual downhill along the Scenic Highway.

In many of my blog posts I have spoken about the "garbage runs" that all runners have as a regular part of their routine.  These are the runs you do between your quality sessions, and are often done just so that you get some daily running in.  They burn calories and keep the cardiovascular system ticking over, but aren't run hard and rarely leave you exhausted.  In my case they are usually 10-12km and have been that way throughout my 45 year running career.  Of course, in my prime there were often two "garbage runs" on "recovery" days, and at least one on "quality" days.

Stretching out along Avoca Drive.

One of my favourite "garbage runs" of the last six or seven years has been the 11km loop I run after supervising the Thursday morning track sessions at The Haven.  This morning, I was pondering why it has become a favourite, especially since at least half is along busy roads.  I think there are several factors.  The first is that it starts up a couple of quite steep hills where, because I'm not warmed up, I don't feel any pressure to run hard.  Instead, I adopt a comfortable pace, running within myself and reach the top warmed up and in good shape.  In the last decade I have noticed that it takes a hill or two to warm me up for any run, so these early hills are well-placed.

The long grind up Tramway.

The course levels out at the top of the hill, the running becomes easier and my pace increases.  After a kilometre or so comes several kilometres of gradual downhill, and by this time, being well warmed up, I generally stretch out to less than 5 min/km pace along the rural road.  It's always satisfying to feel that you're running fast (relatively), even if aided by the gradient, and I reach the bottom of the hill at a good clip.

Starting the final descent back to The Haven.

Then comes two kilometres of mostly straight flat running beside Avoca Lagoon, and I usually find that I can maintain the speed built on the previous section if I concentrate on holding good form and not overdoing it.  At the end of those two kilometres I reach the beach and cross the closed mouth of the lagoon, giving myself permission to ease off the pace on the often soft sand.  After a flat grassy section bordering the northern side of the lagoon comes the climb up Tramway which is always a challenge.  It has steeper and easier sections, but is always climbing and it's a relief to reach the crest.

Almost back to The Haven.

From the crest comes a kilometre or so of mostly downhill running back to The Haven with expansive views north along the coast.  It's easy to pick up the pace again and finish strongly.  Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the run is the slow warm-down walk I take around the perimeter of The Haven reserve, watching the other exercisers, the cars heading off to work in the distance, and the ever-interesting wave-pounded coastline.

The run this morning took 56 minutes which continues the steady improvement in my times over this course since I resumed running seven weeks ago.  Still a long way short of my quickest (51 minutes) but nearing my average (55 minutes).  If I could just lose those extra three kilograms I think I would be there.