With a continuance of easing in travel restrictions, it’s time to highlight a few tips for getting the most out of a social run or walk.
1. Location, location, location
Whilst I’m not here to dole out real estate tips, as the phrase might suggest, location can change your approach to exercise entirely.
Writing from the perspective of a runner of relatively metropolitan Melbourne, I apologise in advance for the national parks in the regional parts of the state. If anyone makes their way out to Aireys Inlet, I’d encourage a run down Distillery Creek road. The old mine access dirt and gravel roads secure my vote for the subjectively best run in Victoria, no surprise to one of Australia’s best 10,000m and marathon runners, local physiotherapist Ellie Pashley (31:18.89/2:26:21).
If that description had you considering a run, this approach is available in many suburbs of Melbourne. For those in the west, Altona Coastal Park Conservation Reserve, nearby Cherry Lake and the paths near Truganina Swamp and Kooringal Golf Club are worth investigating. The series of local reserves alongside Laverton Creek serve as a reliable loop for Western Athletics characters Michael Masseni, Cody Shanahan, Matt Hussey and local Olympic qualifier Jack Rayner (2:11:06). Further west, the You Yangs Regional Park provides a hilly series of loops for those long run or walk inclined.
For readers closer to the CBD, the classic loop covering Albert Park Lake, Fawkner Park and the Tan provides a great set of starting locations. The Yarra Boulevard links up with a series of smaller parks throughout the inner suburbs, with scenic views of the Yarra River. Heading south-east from Albert Park lake opens up a smorgasbord of waterside options along Beach Road.
At this point you might be wondering if the article was incorrectly titled. Training with friends is as much a social activity as it is a physical one. The addition of a venue neither of you have experienced, or a favourite venue of a friend is a fantastic way to showcase parts of a suburb.
If you’re north of the CBD, there’s a fair chance you’re familiar with Princes Park. If one veers slightly west – the Maribyrnong River presents a number of options, much the same as veering east offers up the Yarra Flats trails, Yarra Bend and Studley Park.
Lands east of Melbourne are home to staple venues such as Ferny Creek, Lysterfield Lake, Birdsland Reserve and Jells Park. Lysterfield Lake in particular, provides well over 40 kilometres of options, connecting with Churchill National Park.
South-east of Melbourne, a spread of local parks include Caulfield Park, Dendy Park, Braeside Park, Bicentennial Park and the Edithvale to Seaford range of wetlands. Driving further down to Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve tends to encourage locals to sample expansive trails that link through Mornington Park. The more adventurous south-eastern options include Devilbend Reservoir, Stumpy Gully Road or Red Hill Rail Trail.
If the description of more than thirty venues above has you messaging your running or walking mates, remember the feeling. Getting outdoors and running or walking can feel difficult for a variety of reasons, but the accountability and social aspect of training with a friend is a great starting point
2. Time and distance
If running or walking with friends, discuss the time or distance everyone feels comfortable with on the day. If there is a discrepancy between friends, many of the venues above provide ample room for friends to join a smaller loop of a run or walk, or add distance or time on at the end of an activity.
3. Make a day of it
If time permits, pick a new running or walking venue and grab a coffee or a meal nearby. With the return of a variety of dining options in Melbourne, local establishments will appreciate every bit of support available from the athletic community.