Wednesday, November 16, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #8 Running in Atlanta Memorial Park!

Two weeks ago, running at the Active Oval at Piedmont Park was the focus of my blog.  Today, I want to let everyone know about Atlanta Memorial Park.  Most of us refer to it as simply, “Memorial Park”.  This is a location I keep in my back pocket for days when I need to do a Tempo run, but am feeling a bit unmotivated.  Why?  Because once I pull this park out of my pocket, I remember how beautiful and doable it is. 

I love doing Tempo runs at this park because it is actually a fairly flat course.  The course I’m referring to consists of Woodward Way, Northside Drive, Wesley Drive, Howell Mill Road, Peachtree Battle Avenue, back to Woodward Way, which equals 1.8 miles.  I like to park for free on Woodward Way near Peachtree Battle.

My Tempo workout at Memorial Park consists of running the first loop easy, the second loop in Zone 4 and the third loop easy for a nice 5.4 mile workout.  To me, this is a very doable Tempo run especially when I’m not feeling like getting out there!

After a bit of research, I discovered that Memorial Park once saw part of the bloody 1864 Civil War Battle of Peachtree Creek, as Confederate forces tried to keep the Union troops from closing in on Atlanta. Historic markers are located throughout the park for you to enjoy. 

The park land was a gift to Atlanta in 1929 from former Sen. Hoke Smith, J.W. Bedell and the Howell family, for whose ancestors Howell Mill Road was named. Development of the park began in 1933 which coincided with the bicentennial of the founding of the state of Georgia in 1733. Its original design envisioned it as a memorial forest, and many of the specimen trees originally planted still provide shade for the park.

Right now, the trees are gorgeous with the different shades of the leaves.  You better hurry if you want to experience this park in the Fall because Winter is drawing near!  Whatever the season in Atlanta, Memorial Park is an excellent place for a run!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #7 Running in Piedmont Park!

There are so many reasons why Piedmont Park is a great place to train in Atlanta!  I won't bore you with all the crazy workouts I’ve done at the park and just highlight one location in particular: The Gravel Track surrounding The Active Oval! 

The Active Oval is host to lots of activities for those who live in Atlanta including softball and kickball, however I prefer to stick to the track.  It’s not that I’m not a team player, I just lean toward individual sports.

The surface of the track is packed gravel which gives your legs a break from the pounding of concrete and asphalt.  The distance around the track is .52 miles which is marked by the marble obelisque, donated by The Atlanta Track Club in 2006.  Each 200 meters is marked with a marble plate on the ground.  It’s always nice to find a place to run that is measured.

Over the past few years, I’ve been diligent about adding interval workouts to my training routine.  Also, these types of workouts are often prescribed to the athletes I coach.  The gravel track is a great place to knock out this type of training.  The track is twice the size of a regulation track of 400 meters and I believe it is less intimidating than a regulation track.  As a Coach, it is fun to practice and share different workouts that aren’t as strict with the intervals.  For example, here is one of my favorite workouts:

Warm-Up: 2 Loops at a Comfortable Pace

Set: 6 x 1 Loop Builds with 2 minute and 30 second recovery jog between each Loop Build.

Loop Builds: For each loop, start off easy and progressively get faster at each of the quarter loop marks around the track where the last quarter loop is a sprint.

Cool-Down: 1 Loop at a Comfortable Pace

The gravel track is an excellent location for beginners to run, not to mention those who are coming back from an injury or illness.  All levels of runners and walkers can be found on the track on any given day.    

Another fantastic reason to visit the track is the scenery!  Right now, the fall leaves are beautiful!  It is so picturesque to see the backdrop of Midtown and Downtown against the bright blue sky! 

Check out the gravel track at Piedmont Park for you next workout!  You will enjoy the forgiving surface, the scenery and the variety athletes around you!

If you enjoy Piedmont Park, consider joining the Piedmont Park Conservancy.  They are the nonprofit organization, working with the City of Atlanta for the preservation of historic Piedmont Park.  Over the past 20 years, the Conservancy has successfully transformed the once dilapidated Park into the most visited in green space in Atlanta.