So, I have lived in the city or busy suburbs near Baltimore for a good chunk of my life. Lets face it, running around the neighborhood on hard unforgiving sidewalks isn't very conducive to long distance running. Sure yo can get a few miles in, its great for after work...I guess. What I have found is that in Baltimore, and most other cities you can travel a little bit 15-20 minutes tops and find great places to run.
I am not a treadmill runner. I could run a pick-up half marathon just about any point during the year as I am sure most distance runners can do. Put me on a treadmill and I will make it 2 miles and die of boredom. I love running outside. Whether it is 100 or -12 degrees out it is always fun to cover real distances. There is a thrill to running 10 miles out, knowing you'll have to run 10 miles back. We can all run on treadmills and stop whenever we need to. Is that really fun? I think what separates the insane long distance runners from the casual runner just trying to get back to their fighting weight, its that we actually love to run.We love to be tired and fatigued. We love those big jerk hills, that seem to get bigger and keep going just as we are at the top. That is the thrill of running that I love.
The problem is, I could never find anywhere to run to give me that thrill. I discovered that just 15 minutes out of the city there was a place which closed off traffic on Saturday and Sunday's to allow for bikers, walkers , runners and of course dogs. It is definitely hard to paint an accurate picture of how vast and open this area is but believe me it is huge. There are also some monster hills that will get your body moving. If you are in the area, you should check out Loch Raven Reservoir. Here is a picture of just some of the scenery. The next spot I checked out is called the NCR trail. Aside form the threat of snakes(I hate snakes!) this is a nice flat peaceful place to run. It used to be a railroad that went from Baltimore to PA. The trail is about 28 miles long, every now and then you will have to cross a country road that is usually not busy. There aren't any hills here it is completely flat. What I love about this place is that you are surround by forests almost immediately and creates a somewhat isolationist experience.
When it comes down to it, no matter where you live there may be a place where you can truly be outside and in nature, and not too far from where you live. The inconvenience of driving there is definitely worth it when you realize you are breathing in fresh air and not the exhaust from a bus. Sometimes you just gotta pull the plug on the treadmill and get your butt outside.