Running commentary on training, gear, nutrition, and so much more.

Lions, And Tigers, And Bears! Oh, My!

Unless you live in Ohio, you probably haven’t experienced the possibility of bumping into major predators on a run. (What are you supposed to do if you encounter a bear, again? Fetal position?)

But there are ways to get in a workout near some big name beasts without fear of being mauled. Running through the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. comes to mind.

I did just that last Sunday when I traveled to the DC area to hang with Baby Sister. After checking out a few routes on MapMyRun.com that incorporated the winding-trails of the animal park, we set out on our urban safari. Baby Sister isn’t much of a runner, so I left her in charge of the camera and trotted ahead.

The park itself is on the small side, so if you’re looking to log major mileage you’ll need to tack some on before (or after) you get there. You could run up from Georgetown and go by the National Cathedral to round out your sightseeing tour. Or head into nearby Rock Creek Park for a foliage fix. More ways to make this a roar-inducing good run:

  • Skip the concession stand. When I don’t feel like carrying a water bottle, I’ll slip an Abraham Lincoln in my pocket and stop somewhere to buy a beverage. But with plenty of drinking fountains sprinkled throughout the Zoo you can save your cash.
  • Say “Hi!” to the cheetahs. Not only are they good sprinters, those cats know how to stretch. Watch them pull a few downward dog moves before they stalk the fence they share with the zebra pen. (Breakfast!)
  • Go early to beat the crowds. Baby Sister and I entered the park around 9:45am, and by the time we left the place was swarming with strollers and herds of tourists. Remember what they say about early birds, they get to see the animals play before taking their mid-day siestas.

Have you ever come across a wild animal on a run? (Squirrels and pigeons don’t count.)

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