Prior to starting my street running project I was the type of runner that usually stuck to the same 10 or so routes. I could always gauge how well I was doing based on how fast I was running those usual routes. I have a 10k route here in Fort Saskatchewan that I haven’t done in a while but if I could run it in 45 minutes or less I was usually pretty content that my fitness wasn’t slipping. Either way, now that my focus is on basically running a completely different track every single time I go out, I’m finding that it’s a refreshing change. Although I can’t judge each run by my previous standards, I’m having fun looking forward to knowing I’m going into uncharted territory every time I go out and maybe I’ll see something interesting. I have a few running pals that always switch up their routes and I’m starting to see the appeal.
That being said, I always look at the map before heading out and plan a route so that I can get every alley and crescent without having to backtrack later to get spots I missed. It’s crazy though how easy it is to get mixed up and lose my sense of direction and wind up nowhere I meant to hit. I haven’t resorted to writing a set of directions down or anything and to be honest I’ll probably never do that. I had a psychology professor back in the day that was talking to us one day about taxi drivers in London, England and a long term brain study they did on them. They took a bunch of cabbies that were just starting out and were about to embark on a career that was going to demand they figure out how to navigate the complex warren of approximately 25,000 named streets in England’s capital. They analyzed and compared their brains to a bunch of other people that were to spend their lives accounting or brick laying or whatever, and logged the findings. Years and years later, they took all the subjects from the original study and analyzed their brains again. What the scientists found was that the hippocampus (which is the brain’s learning and memory center) in the London cabbies had expanded and now contained much more grey matter than their counterparts in other occupations. It was thought that it had grown as a result of the years they spent having to visualize how to get their customers to whatever destinations they needed to get to in the city.
Like anybody, I’ve always wanted a more densely packed hippocampus. It’s for that reason I probably won’t bring a map on a run with me…It’s not like I’ll fall into a pool of molten lava or anything, right?….right??