Making Workouts a Priority: The Best Run Route in Marin

Yesterday, I had a long easy, hilly run on my schedule. Pretty much as soon as I saw that I got inexplicably excited and started daydreaming about what big trail loop I was going to do. Big easy loops on the watershed trails are my favorite and I haven’t got to do any this year.

Wouldn't you be excited if this was where you got to run?
Wouldn’t you be excited if this was where you got to run? From Fishing in Bon Tempe Lake.

That excitement was somewhat tempered after the race directing on Sunday was followed up by the fact that I have seven assignments due in the next few days, two other writing projects I need to finish, three other things due next week and various meetings/appointments/calls. There was no way to fit it all in.

It would be really easy, given the absurd number of things I have to do right now (and should be doing right now), to cut the workouts short or skip them. And, I may end up cutting short the hour easy bike ride later today. I despise hour easy bike rides unless they get me somewhere at the end.

But, there’s always a pretty good reason to skip workouts — family is in town, you have a lot of work, it’s a friend’s birthday, you don’t feel great, the cat needed to go to the vet. All of that would be totally understandable. No one would blame you. But, I decided, making your workout a priority, including it in the list of things that has to get done instead of just something you hope will get done, is what separates training from exercising. I suppose the degree of prioritization is what separates athletes from normal people who happen to like working out.

(That’s why when I said I couldn’t make a meeting and you saw me running instead, I wasn’t blowing you off. I was busy. I was busy running.)

So, instead, I just did the two-hour run yesterday even though I didn’t really have the time to. Actually, I was supposed to only run 1:40, but I added wrong when I was trying to decide on my route and only realized after I was an hour into it. Oops. And, you know what? I got everything done that I needed to get done yesterday anyway, even though there was no way that was possible.

Edit: Right after I wrote this I read that NYT article about how relaxing more and taking time off actually makes you more productive. Prioritizing my run might have actually made me able to get everything else done. So there.

This trail is actually called Shady Side. The other side of the lake is called Sunny Side. Clever.
This trail is actually called Shady Side. The other side of the lake is called Sunny Side. Clever. From Western Wildflower.

I ended up running one of my all-time favorite loops at the watershed, which if you’re ever in Marin you should definitely run. (Since I never take a camera with me, I’ve stolen some of these photos from other people, but that’s pretty much what it looks like. All the time.)

To do the best locals-only run in Marin, follow these instructions:

  • Park in Ross by the elementary school and run down the road to Natalie Coffin Green Park and Phoenix Lake.
  • Take the fire road along the north side of Phoenix to Eldridge Grade.
  • Run up Eldridge. Turn right at the fork, go past the water tower along the cement road for a half mile or so, it’ll spit you out on the paved road above Lake Lagunitas. Turn left and you’ll be in the picnic area soon.
  • Get water/go to the bathroom if you need to.
  • Run around Lake Lagunitas. This is fairly self-explanatory, though you have to turn right off the main trail at one point. If you don’t turn right, you will keep going all the way to the top of Mt. Tam.
  • Get water/go to the bathroom if you need to.
  • At the far west (?) end of the picnic area, across a little bridge, is the trail to Shady Side of Bon Tempe Lake. Run Shady Side, run across the dam, turn left at the bottom of the dam in the gravel parking lot and it connects to a fire road.
  • Run the fire road behind the golf course until you get to the Marin Municipal Water District watershed entrance.
  • Just past the kiosk/entrance on the right is a stable. There’s a water fountain there too. Behind the water fountain is a sketchy-looking, single-track, downhill trail. Take it. It’ll spit you out on the Flat Road, which is actually a trail.
  • Turn right on the Flat Road and run to Five Corners.
  • At Five Corners, take Shaver Grade down to Phoenix Lake.
  • Run back to your car in Ross.
  • Thank me.

The GPS says it’s 12.9 miles, but the GPS lies to you on the winding, wooded trails. It’s closer to 14 miles than 13. There’s also about 1,135 ft of elevation gain. Oddly, there was only 1,125 ft of elevation loss, though. So, I am evidently still 10 feet higher than I started.

And, I don’t regret having made that run a priority.

11 thoughts on “Making Workouts a Priority: The Best Run Route in Marin

  1. Right nutrition helps me take best from every workout. Especially when it is enforced by dietary supplement – High-Potency Super Nutritional Complex. It is manufactured by MGNutritionals and contains natural compounds, which safely and effectively enhance my energy supply.

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