As runners, we sometimes get into the mindset of running being all about work – run hard, run fast, run well. Sometimes running becomes a task rather than a pleasure. If you feel yourself getting into this rut, change it up. One of the ways I change it up is to find new and exciting trails while I am on vacation or finding new places to run where I live. Here are some of my favorites. I’d love to hear about yours!

Mammoth Lakes, California - Every summer, my family spends a week in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains hiking, fishing, boating, swimming and playing Skip Bo. Each day begins with my dad and me waking up early to run through the little town of Lee Vining, CA. We then take in beautiful trails with views of Mono Lake, Lee Vining Creek, and Mono Crater. We got to see the amazing tufa rock formations, various trees and wildlife, and the mountains surrounding us.

San Francisco, California - My grandparents and many of my extended family live in the San Francisco area so we visit several times a year. Of course, while we are there, we take the opportunity to explore the fascinating city and eat amazing Chinese food. One of my favorite places to run is famous Golden Gate Park, which spans over 1000 acres and bisects the city of San Francisco. With the Pacific Coast bordering the western edge of the park and “the Haight” on the east, Golden Gate Park is incredibly beautiful, with its Rose Garden, Polo Fields, Stow Lake, Museum District, and Japanese tea Garden. Several years ago, while doing a 5-mile tempo run with my dad, we ran through a Bluegrass Festival, which featured musical performances on seven stages, with thousands of music lovers in attendance.

In addition to finding spectacular places to run while on vacation, consider new and different trails in your own backyard. My own backyard is San Diego and so there are many beautiful trails to explore and discover. Some of my favorites have been Balboa Park and Kit Carson Park where many races and practices took place. Balboa Park, home to the world famous San Diego’s Zoo, over 50 museums, gardens, and attractions, was one of the most popular parks in the area for important high school races. It was a difficult course that involved running through a shaded dog park, up an intimidating grass hill, and around the recreation center to finish. Kit Carson Park features miles of trails as well as a sculpture garden, several ponds, and vast areas for people to picnic on the grass. I have probably raced here over 40 times and I am very familiar with the intense hills for which the course is well known.

As runners, we know that there is no better way to see the world than to get out there and run! Some of my favorite memories of my family vacations have been running with my father in beautiful places. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and find some new trails in your area! Because I run, I have had the opportunity to connect with nature and run in many beautiful places.