A Cal cross country runner’s recommendations for where to run, how to stay motivated

Berkeley Trails
Maya Valluru/Staff

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In uncertain times like these, staying motivated can seem nearly impossible. Some days you wake up feeling ready to conquer your midterms and clean your entire apartment. Other days you sleep in through your alarm, miss your 8 a.m. quiz and have to warn your parents via text that your grades this semester might not be ideal. (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.)

The bottom line: Persevering through the unknown is challenging.

Chloe Hansel is an experienced redshirt senior on Cal’s cross country team who has competed in regional and national invitationals, including the 2017 NCAA Division I cross country championships. On top of facing the uncertainty of this season, she has to come to terms with how different her last year on the team will look compared to years before.

“I really miss having purpose to my training,” Hansel said. “We know the season will happen, but we don’t know in what capacity.”

The fall 2020 cross country season has been postponed until 2021, introducing a whole host of challenges, including the potential for the cross country and indoor track seasons to occur simultaneously.

Hansel isn’t sure what the competitive season will look like, but continues to train with her teammates. She lives in a house with a few of them and lives close by to many more. The Bears stay in contact with their coaches and are sent training schedules to maintain a routine, but head coach Bobby Lockhart is currently only training in person with the freshmen. Hansel is continuing to train with the goal of being ready to race again, whenever that may be.

“There’s such a rewarding feeling when you finish racing that you can’t get from doing workouts,” Hansel said. 

Despite not having a clear picture of how her senior year will unfold, Hansel is staying optimistic. Having a lighthearted attitude in the face of adversity can make a bad situation measurably better (which is what I told my mom she should work on doing after I told her what happened with my quiz).

Along the lines of staying positive, Hansel shared some of her favorite running spots in and around the Berkeley area to help relieve stress and gain perspective.

Upper fire trails

You’ve probably heard of the fire trails before, and maybe even hiked them with friends during orientation, but you should seriously consider adding them to your running routine. There are several ways to reach the fire trails from campus, but Hansel likes to start near the Edwards Track and run to the top — specifically at sunset. 

“It’s just so beautiful,” Hansel said. “You can even drive up there, and it’s soft dirt, which I love to run on.” 

If the trails are good enough for a Division I runner, they should work for anyone. 

East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail 

The Skyline trails are located in Oakland, about a 20-minute drive from campus. If you have the transportation means to incorporate these trails into your running schedule, they’ll be sure not to disappoint.

“There are so many trails there that you never have to double back — it can go on forever,” Hansel said. “It’s so entertaining and different, and you never get bored.”

This year’s virtual training plan has given Hansel and her teammates in the Bay Area more flexibility to explore different running spots, turning a challenging situation into a slightly more entertaining one. 

Clark Kerr track

Running recommendations wouldn’t be the same without the good old Clark Kerr track. Whether you’ve been there before to run or just to admire the view, the track is the perfect place for a workout. Bonus points if you start to recognize the runners who are there regularly. Extra bonus points if you get on head-nod terms with them.

Motivating yourself to explore these running routes might be hard right now. With everything that comes with the pandemic and the fluctuating air quality on top of it, no worries if you wait to try out these recommendations. However, on the off chance you are searching for some motivation, in the wise words of Hansel, “making it fun has been the best way to keep going.”

Mia Horne covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].