Every year I look forward to the point when I’m in good enough shape to go for open-ended runs—that is, the point when I can just run off in whatever direction I like, confident that intuition will let me know when I need to turn around, and confident that I’ll be able to run on back home after I do.

Just before I declare myself ready to take on open-ended runs, I like to do a more carefully planned long run that I think of as my “safety” long run, as a test that I’m really up for running the distance. I’ve got a route that I’ve used for this purpose before that goes out and back along McNalley’s Alley, then in a figure-eight around Centennial Park.

Despite covering a bit over 4 miles, this route never has me much more than a mile from home, so if it turns out I’ve misjudged some aspect of my fitness and have to bail on the long run before it’s over, it’s not a big deal to just walk home.

So I did my “safety” long run today, and hereby declare myself fit for open-ended runs. It’ll be nice to get out and run wherever my fancy takes me.

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