The Joy of Getting Lost on a Run

Last week, I turned left where I had always turned right.

There’s a small lake by my house where I run a few times a week.

Greenway paths crisscross my entire city, and this lake is the meeting point for at least four of them.

Despite being there so often, there’s one branching greenway path that I’d never explored.

Last week I decided to finally check it out.

Where I had always turned right, this time I went left, into the wilds of unknown suburbia.

Surprises in My Own Neighborhood

The new trail was still very close to my house (I had run for about 2 miles before reaching it), so I didn’t expect any surprises along the way.

I knew it would eventually end at a big park nearby, and I figured there wouldn’t be much until then.

Imagine my surprise when after only a few minutes of running, I came to a tiny park that I never knew existed.

Shortly after that, I came to a full running track that I hadn’t known about either. The nearest track I had ever seen was about 4 miles from my house, and there was one only half the distance.

I was blown away!

But then I came to the biggest game-changer of all — alongside the track was a year-round water fountain.

If you don’t run or live somewhere that stays warm all winter, this may not seem like a big deal. To me though, it was huge.

The public water fountains in my city all turn off for the winter, which is incredibly inconvenient when I want to run long distances.

This fountain had anti-freeze technology to allow it to work all year long. It’s only a few more weeks until the rest of the fountains turn off, so this fountain will be saving me a lot of trouble soon.

Getting Lost

After all of my discoveries, I decided to keep pushing forward. I thought I had a rough idea of where the trail would end. I expected to loop back towards my house.

Instead, the trail stopped in a neighborhood that I didn’t recognize at all. The park that I had expected wasn’t around, and I didn’t know the street names.

A wiser person than me might have brought a phone with GPS along for the run, but I stubbornly left it at home.

I set off in the direction that I thought my house was, only to face dead end after dead end.

Eventually, I turned back and retraced my steps, nearly doubling the length that I had planned to run.

Getting Lost More Often

My takeaway from the whole experience is that it’s worth getting lost on my runs more often.

Sure, I ended up running further than planned, but I discovered so many cool things in the process.

Far too often, I just go out on the same path that I always do. Even when I try somewhere new, I tend to look it up online first.

There’s something exciting about just choosing a random trail and seeing what’s down it.

Maybe I’ll get lost tomorrow too.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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