Tips for people wanting to run near campus

Ryan Meyer, Campus Reporter

For those looking to run, Eastern’s campus and Charleston’s community offer plenty of trails and roads for all skill levels.


Where to Run

Erin Howarth, Eastern’s cross country and track distance coach of 11 years, recommended the Panther Trail that loops around the athletic fields for an easy run near campus.

“If it’s a run that I’m trying to recover and just kind of go slow and not think too much, then the Panther Trail is awesome,” she said. “It’s safe, and you don’t have to worry about traffic or stopping for a stoplight.”

Even the material of the surface one is running on can play a part in staying healthy, Howarth said, noting the Panther Trail’s composition of crushed limestone.

Charleston’s unique terrain, alternating between the flatness of Lincoln Avenue and the steep slopes of Lake Charleston, could possibly be attributed to glacial movement, Howarth said.

“Apparently way back when-I’m not that good with historical stuff- but there was a glacier that ran all the way through this area on the south side, that’s why it seems so weird, it’s flat flat flat flat and then all of a sudden you’ve got these huge ridges and creeks and rivers,” Howarth said.

Corbin Schwable, a sophomore physical education major and runner for Eastern’s cross country and track teams, said that the variation in Charleston’s landscape keeps runs from getting boring.

“It’s kind of weird. The amount of hills and curvy roads that we have, I wouldn’t expect it from being out in central Illinois,” Schwable said. “Most of our routes are loops, and there’s quite a bit of turns and curves and different hills where it never really gets boring.”

Fox Ridge State Park, located eight miles south of Charleston, is another destination where the Eastern cross country team does their runs. According to the park’s page on Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources website, it offers eight miles of trails with abundant wildlife and the option to exercise along the Embarras River.

“You never really run the same trail twice,” Schwable said. “Same trail as in on the same run. So we’ll do the same route the entire time, but we never double back really and run the same section.”


How to Run and With Who

Howarth recommended that aspiring runners spread out their time spent running in order to build up slowly to be able to run faster and for longer distances.

“I think now is just a great time to say ‘okay, I’m going to start with maybe a minute of running, a minute of walking, a minute of running, a minute of walking,’ and then see how that goes for the first week,” Howarth said. “… Just kind of build up as slow as you need to.”

Howarth also said that basing runs off time spent running rather than distance ran is easier on one’s head.

“If you kind of go off the minutes rather than how far have I run, it’s I think a lot easier mentally,” Howarth said.

For those interested in running with others, social media is one way to meet other people interested in running.

“Honestly the best bet would be to just run at those times where everybody would be running, or try to start a Facebook group or a club, and maybe send it out or have the university send it out,” Schwable said.


When to Run

Finding a time to run and sticking to it is another way someone looking for people to run with to meet other runners, Schwable said.

“7 to 8 a.m. seems like a pretty popular time for people to be up and running,” Schwable said. “If you start running at the same time you’re bound to run into the same people every day and then maybe you could start talking to them and meet up with them.”

How to run while living at Eastern Illinois University:

Start slow to avoid getting discouraged

Find other runners and start a group

Make good use of the trails and parks near campus

Use the Panther Trail if you’re looking for a route close to campus


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]