Back To Running On NYC’s High Line

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The High Line in New York City on Oct. 29. The elevated park is on the city’s West Side. Photo by Rob Thurman/Flikr.

Okay, it’s been a full month since I ran the Chicago Marathon and I suppose it’s time—time to run again.

I’m a real stickler when it comes to the rules of training. And perhaps my favorite rule of training is actually the rule of recovery. A common adage says it takes one day per mile of any distanced raced for your body to fully recover. So that means I get 26.2 days off from hard training. I take that seriously. Maybe too seriously. As much as I love to run, I love to take it easy when I feel I’ve earned it.

But after about two and a half weeks of recovery, I started to get antsy. The yoga, stretching and sit-ups I was passing off for workouts just weren’t cutting it. So I finally laced up my shoes and hit the pavement. I wanted to take ‘er nice and easy after two weeks off, so I told myself I’d run for half an hour tops.

highline, nyc highline, running highline

NYC’s High Line runs along an old elevated rail line. The park is half a mile long. Photo by Rob Thurman/Flikr.

It was a perfect fall morning, about 60 degrees, with clear sunny skies and that crisp autumn smell in the air—a nice clean scent that I always welcome after New York City’s hot sultry summers, which stink of garbage and urine. (I wish I were kidding.)

But rather than trod my well-worn paths in Central Park or along the Hudson River, I wanted to try something different. For my first run “back in black,” I headed over to the High Line, NYC’s newest park, which runs 30 feet above the city on an old elevated rail line. Usually, the High Line is too packed for anything more than a leisurely stroll. But in the morning only a few stragglers and a fellow runner or two joined me at the top of the stairs.

The High Line runs about half a mile from 20th Street in Chelsea to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. So after a leisurely half-mile warm-up, I ran four lengths of the park at an easy pace.

And as I suspected, it felt magnificent. I lolled along taking in the flowers, the rooftops and the sound of my own breath. If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn I could hear birds chirping, church bells chiming and general sounds of happiness in the air.

After a mile and a half, I got a side stitch and marveled at the fact that I’d just run a marathon at a much faster speed. I smiled to myself. Oh, the gluttony of recovery.

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The High Line’s rails, seen here on Oct. 29, have been landscaped with plants that bloom 10 months of the year. Photo by Rob Thurman/Flikr.

So after another lap and 2 miles, I bid adieu to the fall foliage and purple flowers and descended the stairs to the street. I walked a half-mile as a cool down, and wow, I felt invigorated. It’s always hard to motivate myself for that first run after a break, but I’m always glad once I do. And what better way to mark a new running season than with a lush new landscape?

My recovery month was luxuriant, but now I’m ready to get back into the groove. I’ve done a few easy runs since and can definitely feel the itch to work back up to speed. It feels good to be “back” without any training schedule or set workouts. I can run free like the winter wind that I know is right around the corner. For now, I’ll bask in New York’s autumnal hues. The streets and parks are mine to make of them what I will, running willy-nilly all over town. And run willy-nilly I will.

Photos courtesy of Rob Thurman on Flikr.

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

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11 2009