Jog on with Helen Twose

Pounding the pavement and keeping up with the latest in running news

Jog On: The right track

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Every evening a chap runs past our front gate. I could just about set my clock by him he's so predictable. Same route, day in, day out.

I think it would actually drive me a bit bonkers to be such a creature of habit. While I recognise it is good to have some routine to your running, the idea of trudging around the same roads every day seems a pretty uninspiring way to run.

I made it one New Year's resolutions to get out and regularly run some different trails. At the time I thought it would be an easy, fun goal that would help keep my running on track.

For a beginner like myself running only a few kilometres can limit run route variety because you can only really manage a few blocks. I've found that despite the best of intentions I was getting stuck in a well-trodden rut.

I decided to challenge myself to a week of running different routes. That sounds quite hard core doesn't it? In reality it was just about running my regular four runs, but in some fresh locations.

I wasn't going to worry too much about run times or distances, it was about getting out there and trying something new. Fortunately summer came to the party and I got some sublime weather to boot.

Run 1: Auckland Domain

Even though I've lived in Auckland for more than 10 years I'm still blown away by the view from Auckland Domain. Looking across this lovely park with the grand museum building up on the rise and a backdrop of the harbour and Rangitoto is nothing short of stunning.

The inspiration for this run came from the handy council publication "Running in the Inner City". The "inner city dash" takes runners from the middle of town, up to the museum and back on a 4.5km loop.

I parked up at the Domain and tried to keep my run to the bush tracks as much as possible. Following Domain Walk (or the Ho Chi Minh trail as it's sometimes known) takes you through lovely trees and nikau palms on well-formed tracks. If it wasn't for the background hum of the motorway and the occasional peeks out at Parnell you'd hardly know you were in the middle of the city.

Run 2: Tamaki Drive

This is a classic Auckland run location and for good reason. It can get busy at the weekend but what's not to like about running on nice flat footpaths and boardwalks alongside the sea?

I took my baby out for this one and we weren't alone. There were plenty of other mums, dads and grandparents exercising in the sunshine with kids in prams, on bikes and scooters.

The exposed points tend to cop a bit of wind but the bonuses surely outweigh the downsides: no roads to cross, dead flat, lots of drinking fountains and toilets, and cafes for the post-run refuel.

At the end kick off your shoes and socks and soak your feet in the sea - bliss!

Run 3: One Tree Hill/Cornwall Park

Aucklanders have the philanthropy of Sir John Logan Campbell early last century to thank for the beautiful Cornwall Park. With its magnificent established trees it must surely be one of the city's most beautiful parks, but it is still possible to find a quiet spot among the more than 100 hectares of parkland.

Follow the footpath around the base for a 2.5km loop and include a run to the summit if you want to test yourself. Be warned: it's a short, sharp climb (I walked).

For a bit of variety there are several short pathways to explore off Pohutukawa Drive and Twin Oaks Drive, or take the 4.5km track around the perimeter of the park. The well-worn path runs through the park farm so in spring there is a chance you'll witness the miracle of birth ruminant-style. A sprint through the bull paddock is sure to get the heart racing.

Run 4: Milford Beach to Takapuna Beach

Depending on where you start and finish it is around 2km along the coast between Milford Beach to the boat ramp at Takapuna so it's possible to run it as an out and back.
It's a nice flat run but along the way will cover everything from beach, seawall, rock hopping to stretches of footpath. There are some tricky sections that only the professional mountain goats will get through without breaking stride so expect to do a little bit of walking. Like Tamaki Drive, treat your legs to a wade in the sea afterwards.

Now I'll be honest - I didn't suddenly develop jet propulsion. Even though the locations were different I was still huffing and puffing, with the usual tired leg feeling afterwards. This was no miracle break-through to a new, fast, running goddess me.

What it did give me was some fresh enthusiasm for running and the place I live. I gave other runners and walkers a cheery "hi", got a glimpse of mama pheasant and her babies, briefly eavesdropped on kids learning guitar in the sunshine and watched a group of nippers get their first taste of surf lifesaving.

It's nice to lift your eyes, wipe away the sweat and drink in the fabulous scenery around us.

What's your favourite New Zealand run?

Events:

* Follow the trail the merinos of Queenstown's Ben Lomond Station take to get shorn each spring in the inaugural Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon. Also includes a half marathon, 10km and 5km events. Saturday, January 28.

Check out top tips for beginner runners with Kiwi ultra-distance legend Lisa Tamati:

Twitter: @Jog_On_NZ

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