Thursday, November 13, 2008

The 2-Mile Loop

Have you ever been running endlessly on a treadmill, and thought, there must be a better way? Even if there’s a TV screen in front of you, I can’t help but thinking, this is soooo boring. Although I grew up playing soccer, rugby, and a host of other field sports that required a massive amount of running, I could never get myself to stay on a treadmill for more than 20 minutes – and I’ve tried everything. I can have access to a treadmill with 3,000 cable channels, an i-Pod input with advanced digital displays, 400 different hill and interval workouts, and I will still want to shoot myself after 20 minutes. The fact is, I cannot run consistently, unless some 250-pound rugger is trying to crush me or I’m chasing after a ball.

It’s amazing that after working and staying at the ranch over the past 10 years, I had heard of but never experienced the mythical, “2-mile loop.” As I’ve struggled through my 20 minutes of running and lamented about the pain of it, people would always ask, “Why don’t you run outside? There’s a 2-mile loop literally 20 feet from the gym.” I would always tell them, that despite my hatred of the treadmill, at least I was in an air-conditioned room and I could tell how many miles I’ve run and at what pace, etc. Then one day as the summer was stretching into fall, I thought, why not? I’ll try the 2-mile loop. At least this way I can’t quit after a mile and jump into a much more inviting part of Canyon Ranch, like a nice warm whirlpool.

So, with the thrill of the unknown, I ventured out of the spa, and started on my first, 2-mile loop around the Ranch. With that simple decision, my running life was changed forever. The 2-mile loop goes through and around the Ranch. In case you haven’t been to the property, Canyon Ranch in Tucson is bordered on one side by the pristine Sabino Canyon Creek, desert to the south, several hills to the west, and the Catalina Mountains to the north. The property itself is a combination of natural desert and the manicured desert/grounds that guests often note. The 2-mile loop goes through all of this and provides you with unbelievable views in every direction. The best part of the loop is that it has a little bit of everything. A little trail running on a maintained dirt trail, a small amount of running on paved surfaces, various elevation changes, and even a portion of the trail that climbs the side of a hill. Once you reach the top of this hill it provides you with a breathtaking view of the whole property
and the Catalinas to the north. If you’re so inclined, you can use that same hill for intervals to vary your run workout.

However, the best part of this first run came about 10 minutes into it when I heard a rustling in the desert. Not more than 30 feet away, I spied a mule deer that had been feeding on desert grass and was staring at me with curiosity.

With gorgeous views around every corner, the thrill of running outdoors, and my proximity to nature I began to feel the unique energy of the land and desert. Needless to say, the time flew by and before I knew it, my two miles were up. I returned to run that loop everyday for the next week and for the first time in my life had implemented a consistent running program. So next time you’re in Tucson, take a walk or a jog on the 2-mile loop, and let me know what you think. I hope your experience will be as great as mine.

Live healthy!

Ken Morris

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