Runner looking at sport watch

When I started Rock Creek Runner, one of the bloggers I turned to for inspiration was my friend Nick Evans of Macheesmo. He writes a food blog, not a running blog, and many of his recipes I can’t even eat (not because they aren’t well crafted, but because of my diet choices). But I’ve always been captivated with how he approaches the kitchen and his work.

Nick isn’t afraid to take chances. He isn’t afraid to do things outside the box. And I know that everything he does, he does with passion. His new web series The Food Fix is a perfect example.

So when Nick approached me about a recent run of his, and how he wanted to share his thoughts on letting go of control, I knew he’d be the perfect person to do so. Someone willing to do things a little different, no matter where it took him.

Alright, Nick … Take it away!

A few weeks ago I was planning a run through downtown Denver and I had a kind of different idea. I just decided to run to the end of my street.

Like, the very end.

Since Denver is on a grid system, I had a rough idea of how far my road went, but wasn’t entirely sure.

It ended up being about a three mile run to get to the actual end of my street, where the sidewalk literally stopped.


This six mile run was a mid-range run for me by distance, but the emotional trip I took during the run made it feel much longer!

In our times of technology and mapping, I realized that I had almost never gone on a run that I didn’t know exactly the distance and exactly the route. So when I set out on this run I found myself freaking out a bit – knowing that every step I took I would have to do again.

Letting Go of Your Plan

Many things in life don’t have exact ends that you can predict, including running. We’ve forced structure and predictability into running to help us train efficiently and make the mental struggle slightly easier.

But I believe there’s a real benefit to going for a run where you don’t know the exact end.

It challenges you to let go a bit and just try and enjoy the process. It also forces you out of that mental comfort zone and presents a nice challenge.

That said, you obviously want to plan at least a little bit. Have a rough idea of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

But the point of this kind of run is to avoid mapping out the entire route, and knowing the exact distance.

Also, if you’re going to go on an unknown run, have a backup plan:

  • Stick a few dollars in your sock,
  • Bring a cell phone,
  • And tell somebody that you are going!

That way if something goes terribly wrong, you’ll make it out alive!

Finishing What You Start

Regardless of what you do or what you want to do, being able to follow through on things is a pretty important life skill. This can be tough, especially if there isn’t an exact end in sight, but those are often the projects that end up being most rewarding.

The unknown run is a great way to build up your mental grit.

About two miles into my unknown run, I started to cave. I almost turned around, thinking that I would never make it, and came embarrassingly close to cheating, by looking up the route on my phone!

But, I kept on keeping on and eventually I saw a weird fenced off area in front of me.

In true Shel Silverstein fashion, I thought: “Oh. This is where the sidewalk ends!”

Then I had nothing left to do but turn around and run right back home.

When planning your next route, plan less.

Let go a tiny bit, and see where the trail takes you!

This is a guest post by Nick Evans. Nick runs the food blog Macheesmo and is an avid casual runner. Nick has a new web series where he tries to solve reader issues in the kitchen. Watch the first episode of The Food Fix here!

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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3 thoughts on “Running To the End: How (And Why) to Let Go During Your Next Run

  1. Perfect timing. I have been getting a little demotivated lately about running. A friend suggested that I run naked, (leave all the tech behind) and just run for the joy of running. It has reawakened my passion for running. I will still have training plans but from now on I will incorporate at least one “fun run” per week in my schedule.

  2. Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!

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