Yesterday morning, before my meeting, I took a long walk through the downtown area of DC. It got me thinking that I haven't seen or read about such a unique training venue compared to this city.
Washington DC has an endless variety of areas and types of trails for cycling and running. Though on the banks of the Potomac, the river is rarely clean enough for swimming, so it really only lacks an open-water swimming venue. However, Chesapeake Bay is approximately an hour away, so it's doable.
I was really impressed with the strides DC has made with promoting cycling in the city - beyond the well-used bike-share program, new bike lanes were seen in several different locations. From anywhere in the downtown area, a few miles is all that separates one from connecting to the many bike paths that then head out into the surrounding states. When we lived in Falls Church, VA, I could bike commute on dedicated bike lanes, crossing all of 3 or 4 streets to get to work. Connect to the C&O Canal Path, and it's 184.5 mile length offers up long rides (or runs) of amazing length.
It was living in Virginia that got me hooked on trail running. My favorite local path was the Potomac Heritage Trail, running north along the river from Roosevelt Island. It connected with some side trails that actually allowed me to trail run from nearby my house all the way to the Potomac - easily a half marathon one way if I so decided. The trails in the Falls Church/DC are incredibly varied as well, from paved former rail trails to ankle-wrenching single track, so it was a great place to get acquainted with the sport.
The ultimate trail running area has to be the Shenandoah National Park. Located about 75 miles west of DC, it has a portion of the Appalachian Trail running through it, with multiple side trails, loops, and well-known hikes. It also is a great place to cycle (if you want to get hill workouts in) - 105 miles of meandering blacktop take you from one end of the park to the other, and 35 MPH speed limit for cars!
Don't get me wrong - there are many many places to live and have great access to multisport training venues, but I can't think of another that matches it, especially when factoring in the history of the area, the monuments, the local culture.
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