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Two types of runner?

Heading north along the Lake Front Trail towards downtown

I sometimes think there are two kinds of runners - those who are happy to train on out-and-back courses and those who will always look for a loop.

When I pulled out of the Central Coast Half Marathon ten days ago with a calf strain, I ended up walking back along the course for an hour with another runner who had also pulled out.  She was from Chicago and I commented that I thought Chicago one of the most boring places to run.  She didn't agree and countered that it had the wonderful trail along Lake Michigan.  This is true and I'm very familiar with the trail from extended business trips to Chicago in years past and more recently visits to Sharon who is working there for a year.  The trail is scenic and extremely well patronised by runners, walkers and cyclists.

Looking south along the Lake Front Trail
[Photo:  Alanscottwalker]

As an occasional run, the Lake Front Trail is fantastic, but to run there every day would drive me nuts.  It obviously didn't bother my new friend, perhaps supporting my casual observation that there is a cohort of runners defined by their willingness to run out-and-back, often on the same route.  I know and have known runners who never give it a second thought.  So long as they are running in a safe and conducive environment, it's fine.

Personally, I avoid running out-and-back like the plague, and know other runners of like mind.  Psychologically, running out-and-back seems harder to me.  If I run a loop course, I feel like I am going somewhere.  Perhaps it is mentally more stimulating, but I doubt that it helps me train harder (though it may make training run more palatable on those days when it's hard to get out).  On the other hand, it could be argued that the runner going out-and-back is toughening themselves mentally whilst doing the same training.  There's no right or wrong.  It's just a distinction that interests me.

With respect to my current training, I have so far stuck to my plan of increasing my running distance by one kilometre per day this week.  Today I managed 4km of walking followed by 3km of running without feeling any pain in my strained right calf, though I already feel like I have lost fitness from two weeks ago.  Hopefully, sticking with the short-term plan will bring back the feeling of fitness without risking the recurrence of the calf injury.