Cul-de-Sac Hell

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So, we moved to our current neighborhood in March, I gave birth in June, and I started running again in July, so I’m just now beginning to explore the surrounding areas to find… (dum dum dum!) THE PERFECT ROUTE.  It is a trying process.


Can we talk about running routes?  People are so funny about them!


  • Type A:  Wants to run the same route, every time.  Enjoys knowing every mile marker, twist, and turn.  Likes routes that go in big loops, out-and-backs, or lollipops, as long as it has only a few stops.  Wants to end the run on a round number – i.e. a perfect 4-mile route.
  • Type B:  Would rather run a new route, every time.  Doesn’t mind hitting a dead end or a major highway, as they would prefer to see new streets and get a little lost.  Who cares if they go a little under or over their intended mileage?


I am Type A.  I’m trying to find a great 4 mile route from my front door, but my neighborhood is PACKED with cul-de-sacs.  Literally – cul-de-sac hell.  There’s a huge woody neighborhood that would be perfect for banging out a few miles… except every other street is a cul-de-sac and nothing connects.  Damn!  The former urban planner in me shudders.


I did 3.5 very Type B miles as I ran into dead ends and turn-arounds.  Maybe I will discover the ideal route soon… and then I will run the exact same path, step for step, four times a week.  Hah.




Cast iron tofu

Zucchini and squash

Brown rice

Italian dressing over everything


In other news, things are CRAZY right now in Charlotte because of the Democratic National Convention. 


I kind of just want to bunker down in my house for the next three days and not venture out onto any roads at all!



  • Sunny September 4, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Ha! Great post, I am so type A. I travel to my grampas every other month and I even have a route there because its easier that way lol.

  • Ellie @ September 4, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I am 120% a type A runner! We just moved over a month ago and I’m still searching for my perfect 6 mile run. One with not too many stop light/road crossings… one that not too many people will drive by and see my red face… ahem… I mean one that I don’t have to run by many cars… yah know.. the perfect go to run! Good luck finding yours!

    • Ellie @ September 4, 2012, 3:09 pm

      Have you tried plotting your route first and then seeing how it goes in terms of scenery? I use:

      • Bid September 4, 2012, 4:33 pm

        Gmaps is wonderful. I’ve used it for a long time. And you can also go to picture view.. mapping before or after.. as long as you can remember where you went..

      • Mary-Heather September 4, 2012, 4:44 pm

        I was just going to suggest this! I map new routes on Runkeeper before trying different paths or distances – it’s really handy!

  • Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles September 4, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I’m a type-A too. I moved a month ago and am struggling to find my “perfect” loop as well. I loved my last apartment because it was exactly 6 miles from my door to the golden gate bridge and back- a really pretty run

  • Megan@ The Running Doc September 4, 2012, 3:15 pm

    I am definitely a type-A runner. When I lived in Pennsylvania I’d found the perfect routes for all the distances I liked to run, and since the town I lived in was surrounded on all sides by farm land, it was super easy to run out and backs as long as you were ok running on the shoulder of a 2 lane country road. But I’ve now been in TX for a year and still haven’t found any routes that I love. It’s so frustrating and has detered me from running on a few occasions, ha.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life September 4, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Type A all the way!!! When we go on family walks and the Hubby starts taking off on a new route that I’ve never been on I start to get tense and wonder if he knows where he is going. The thing is… he doesn’t, and he doesn’t even care!! He likes to explore and try new things and I am a creature of habit that cannot stray. His way always turns out to be just fine and enjoyable and I was tense for nothing but I can’t help it!

  • Elizabeth M. September 4, 2012, 3:17 pm

    I am totally type A and my neighborhood is on a huge hill which makes it tricky. I run the same route all the time. I don’t even need my garmin I know the distance markers so well.

    Have you checked Map My Run for routes in your neighborhood? People can upload routes they like and you can use that as a jumping off point for your perfect route 🙂

  • erin September 4, 2012, 3:19 pm

    I can relate to Type A -and have the fustration of living on a cul de sac 🙂

  • abbi September 4, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I’m type A during the week and type B on the weekends! Haha…we have cul-de-sacs too but likely I’ve been able to turn them into a perfectly round number route. Good luck on your quest for the perfect route.

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama September 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

    I’m type B. I just strap on my Garmin and run. To look at a map of my route after is full of zig zags.

  • Jameil September 4, 2012, 3:28 pm

    I’m happiest when I’m exploring a new route. This backfired one day when I ended up in cul de sac hell. I didn’t even know all these cul de sacs existed in this area because the rest of the streets all connect. Lame. Out and backs make me sad. As a matter of fact, I’m ready for a new route today. Even running a route in reverse makes me happier than running it the same way over and over.

  • Kattrina September 4, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I live in cul-de-sac world too. I actually live in a planned community, so there are so many dead ends it’s crazy. The only good thing is that there are a ton of running/biking paths, so it’s not so bad for the runner/biker. At the end of most culs-de-sac there is a path that connects to another street. If you’re driving, you are kind of screwed. People get lost all the time and always complain that they can’t find anything in this town.

    Since I don’t have a Garmin I have to map my runs before I go out. I have a bunch of different routes that I’ve mapped, so when I go out, I just pick one based on what distance I want. I also have routes in different neighborhoods (i.e. DC if I am running at work, the neighborhood near the gym in case my hubs wants to work out while I run, etc.). I feel like if you live in cul-de-sac world it might be easier to map the run out first, rather than just try and run the neighborhoods. Who knows though, it’s the only way I’ve ever done it!

  • Whitney September 4, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I am a partial Type A runner. I do have to end up with a perfect round number for my mileage. 9.94 miles will not cut it! But I can’t stand to run the same route every single time I go out for a run. I have about 10 different routes that will get me 1-20 mile runs so I’m good with that 🙂

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) September 4, 2012, 3:40 pm

    I live in a dinky little town right on the edge…and technically on a dead-end street…however, there is a dirt cut over to the next parallel street just south of ours. We love living on this street! I can walk from my house to the end of the cul-de-sac street south of us in exactly 5 minutes (warm up) then take off running and just head toward town away from the edge we live on…

    I’m type A.5 I like routine but also like to spice things up once in awhile. I don’t mind Cul-de-sacs for a warm up but they are annoying to run on!

  • Kate September 4, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Your Type A vs Type B descriptions are perfect and how well I fit into the Type A category makes me giggle. I’m getting back into running right now too and I just found my loop and it feels so good! Hope you find your perfect route soon.

  • Holly September 4, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Caitlin, be careful with your Type A running (and especially about advertising it on the internet!). “They” say to vary your route so that a potential assaulter/attacker/stalker can’t learn your route. At least you have a slightly less rigid time of day for doing it, if you do keep the same route!

    I keep about 4-6 routes in the mix at any given time. I definitely am in the Type A mindset that I like to know exactly where I’m going before I leave (and have a pretty round number to end with), but I get SERIOUSLY bored if I do the same run 3 days a week. Sometimes it means driving somewhere to start, but it is worth it to me!

    • Caitlin September 4, 2012, 9:26 pm

      Ah good safety point! Especially if you run the same route the same time of day.

  • Jessi September 4, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Will MapMyRun help you out with planning a route? Maybe you can zoom out on your ‘hood and try to see possible route that don’t involve turning around/dead end hell. Good luck!

  • amy September 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Hahaha, I hear you! My boyfriend will constantly make fun of me because I run the same route every single day at about the exact same time. There is just something about being able to run and not have to think that makes it pleasurable to me!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

    I’m so type A too! I like my mileage to be nice whole mile numbers (none of this 4.53miles business!) and tend to stick to the same routes time and time again. I’m such a creature of habit!

  • Abbey September 4, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I moved at the beginning of August and I’m still trying to find a good route, too! I also like to do the same route consistently. My troubles are construction and long traffic lights.

  • Stef September 4, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I’m a little combo of both. I am Type A in most areas of my life, but when I run I like to change it up every now and then to keep things fresh. However, I still usually map it out before I go so I know exactly where to go and how many miles the route is. However, I haven’t ran in a LONG time.

  • Rachel O. September 4, 2012, 3:52 pm

    i guess i’m a combo. i hate running in neighborhoods and keeping up with mileage and which streets i should turn down next and worrying if i forgot a turn. i prefer to run on the country roads going the other direction of my front door – i can generally go out without a plan and just roam the roads but always know approximately how close one way or the other is to get back home. it’s more relaxed and less turns i guess

  • Barbie September 4, 2012, 3:57 pm

    LOL! I’m a Type A person But a Type B runner – keeps the boredom down. I like to map out different runs. It zooms down to street level and lets you map out routes and try out different things.

  • Meg September 4, 2012, 4:13 pm

    Love your descriptions! I am totally a Type A runner! Now that I’m pregnant and can no longer run, even my walks have become type A! I follow my same running routes and at the back of my mind, I’m still tracking distance (but not time since I now leave my garmin at home). My hubby is a type B runner. He’ll usually just go out and run “for fun” but I don’t understand how he can come home and not know his distance. I’m sure that he gets bored when he runs with me and thinks I’m weird for running an extra half block to finish off a run at an even number! However, he is much more familiar with our neighbourhood than I am since he’ll always explore and he has found a lot of neat places!

  • Amanda Hollenbaugh September 4, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Have you tried I used it to avoid iffy neighborhoods around my location. It’s really helpful. Good luck!

  • Lisa September 4, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I’m a little bit of both. I tend to lean more towards pattern and habit so I like to do the same route. This also helps with checking my timing while running/cycling by landmarks. But at the same time, I often get sick of it and want a new route!

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 4, 2012, 4:21 pm

    Have you thought about looking up your neighborhood on google earth and then mapping out a 4 mile route?

    • Jacquelyn September 4, 2012, 9:23 pm

      I do this with just regular google maps, start from my location and then get directions by right-clicking on a spot and then dragging the marker to see how far the run would be. I’ve moved a lot and I find this an easy way to find a route and find how far it is!

      • Caitlin September 4, 2012, 9:27 pm

        Yes! But I think the perfect route is also about scenery and shade – can’t find that on Google Earth though!

  • Stephanie @ Food and Fitness 4 Real September 4, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Type A runner here – I have some great paths in some nearby parks, but I have to cross two major highways to get there from my house which is both dangerous and annoying (I hate waiting at the redlight, not knowing if I should run in place, stop my Garmin, etc.)
    Hope you find a better route soon!

  • brooke @ sweats & sweets September 4, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I am Type A, a whole loop around our neighborhood is exactly 3 miles. I sometimes panic at new routes, just the thought of not knowing when I will hit my miles scares me. Call me old fashioned, but I like the comfort of my loops.

  • Andrea September 4, 2012, 4:44 pm

    I’m totally a type A type of route person, and I just moved to a new city – so it’s been terrible trying to figure out routes for long runs! I just found a great trail behind myself, but it’s sooooo straight. It’s mentally hard to run, but it’s better than not knowing where I’m going.

    • Andrea September 4, 2012, 4:45 pm

      oops…myself = my house

  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes September 4, 2012, 4:55 pm

    I’m definitely a type-a runner. (And a type-A person. Coincidence? I don’t think so. ;)) I have several go-to routes at home for varying distances (2, 3, 5.25, and 7.5 miles), and I don’t remember the last time I ran a new route. What can I say? I love routine. 🙂

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More September 4, 2012, 5:24 pm

    I’m definitely one for the same path. When I first moved to SoCal 3 years ago and started running my new neighborhood, I decided to run to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market one morning. I knew I was near the right intersection but got a little lost finding the Farmer’s Market and definitely got a bit into panic mode. I knew how to get home so I wasn’t too lost but I didn’t enjoy not knowing where I was or where I was going, especially when moving “so fast.”

  • Megan September 4, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I’m definitely a type A runner as well. However, there are typically two routes that I will run. Route One, I stay within my neighborhood. Route two, I run across the street to another neighborhood. I’m comfortable with those two running routes. I will soon be facing a challenge however: getting back into running after this baby is born (due 9/11) and the fact that we’re moving to the county just north of us in less than a month! I will need to find another route

  • Hillary September 4, 2012, 6:05 pm

    Cul de Sac hell is EXACTLY how I would describe my current suburban ‘hood. When I lived in Baltimore City, I LOVED going for runs—it could be different every single day, and I could stay as close or go as far as I pleased. When I run in my current neighborhood, I’m super limited. It’s nice because it’s quieter and a bit safer, but not nearly as fun!

  • BroccoliHut September 4, 2012, 6:16 pm

    Definitely another Type A here. I ran the same exact route for several consecutive summers during college while I was at home with my parents. It made it so much easier to track progress. I could pick a landmark and see if I could trim seconds off of the time it took me to get there. Type A’s dream!

  • Caroline September 4, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I definitely think I’m a type A runner, too. I like to have a regular route and just mindlessly run it without having to worry about where I’m going and if it will be a long enough route, or I’ll get lost or something.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles September 4, 2012, 6:53 pm

    I’m definitely a type B. If i run the same route over and over again I get bored. I prefer to just pick a direction and run, wherever I end up. 🙂

  • Alex September 4, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Where did you go for your urban planning degree?

    • Emily September 4, 2012, 8:14 pm

      Yeah – I was curious too. My boyfriend’s brother is an urban planner.

      • Caitlin September 4, 2012, 9:29 pm

        Cool! Not many urban planners out there.

        So I worked for a small consulting firm (45 employees) that had offices in CA and PA. Mostly I was a technical writer and created development documents and environmental impact analysis. My company’s theory was that they could teach a good writer the basics of urban planning (what I did was very formulaic, not creative planning) but it was harder to teach someone who had an UP degree and couldn’t write how to write. So they hired a mix of people – I had an English degree and a ton of writing experience; my coworker was a biologist with strong writer skills; etc. Some people actually did have UP degrees but I was mostly hired for my writing ability.

        • Emily September 5, 2012, 12:32 am

          Oh – I was under the impression that unless you had an urban planning degree, you weren’t an urban planner. I know my boyfriend’s brother had to get certified by the American Planners Association.

          • Sarah M September 5, 2012, 10:05 am

            My husband is an Urban Planner and got his degree from the University of Tennessee and is an AICP. Titles can be tricky, but usually a certified planner are those that are “offiically” planners, just like engineers are “official” when they have passed their Proffessional Engineering Licensure Exam (P.E.). Just my 2 cents:).

          • CaitlinHTP September 5, 2012, 10:47 am

            What Sarah said 🙂

          • CaitlinHTP September 5, 2012, 10:48 am

            Hah! What Sarah Said is a song 🙂

          • Lauren September 5, 2012, 7:46 pm

            What did you have to do to get your urban planner certification? Was there an exam? I searched the AICP membership directory for your name and it didn’t come up. Does that mean you aren’t certified? I’m sooooo interested in being an urban planner some day and wanted your advice!

          • Caitlin September 5, 2012, 8:33 pm

            Nope, I was never certified. You don’t have to be certified to be a planner or work in planning. In fact, you need at least two years of planning experience in the real world before you can even get certified. Getting certified is a nice thing to have if you are a planner but not necessary. I worked as a planner for 3.5 years and was planning for a long time to take the exam at year 4, but I decided to get out of the industry at the beginning of my third year. Anyway, I’m probably not the best person to give advice on how to become a planner because 1) I just fell into it; 2) I’ve been out of the industry for nearly 4 years. Maybe consider talking to some colleges that offer the degree program? Or shadowing a professional?

          • Lauren September 5, 2012, 7:47 pm

            whoops. my comment and questions above are directed to Caitlin.

  • Molly @ RDexposed September 4, 2012, 7:10 pm

    I’m the type a runner!! I know all of my mile markers (and 1/4 mile!) for an 8 mile run.

  • kwithme September 4, 2012, 7:22 pm

    I am type A and B. I like round numbers but hate too much repetition. I have several 5k routes. I have a perfect 5 mile, 8 mile and 10 mile routes. And a park that 8 miles but 2 of the miles are a loop so I can easily make it any even number. I have another park that is easy to make odd distances (3/5/7miles). I don’t like running past my start/end point or running loops. If I have to loop, I will reverse it which helps.

    If I have to or I am pressed for time. My neighborhood is a 1 mile loop. I have run five miles in it, but it gets really tedious.

  • Kelly September 4, 2012, 7:54 pm

    I am very type A when it comes to running for my workout but am very type B when I am out walking the dog. I feel like when I am running I don’t want to think about anything important like knowing where I am going. But when I am walking the dog I like to use that time as my explore the neighborhood time!

  • Mai September 4, 2012, 8:16 pm

    haha. definitely type A! i just like knowing the spots where my garmin will beep +1 mile. ;D

  • Lindsay September 4, 2012, 8:20 pm

    I”m a type A for sure and my husband is a type B. It drives him a bit nuts especially when I was pregnant and we did the same 1-1.5 mile loop over and over and each night.

  • Claire September 4, 2012, 8:30 pm

    Bahahaha I am such a type A!

  • Kate @KateMovingForward September 4, 2012, 10:23 pm

    Very Type A here!! I’m pretty picky about where I run and as a social worker in a small town I try to avoid all my clients’ neighborhoods (awkward!) while getting the right mix of hills and flat, shade and sun, perfect mileage! haha!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 5, 2012, 7:06 am

    I’m type B for sure! I get so bored running the same route all the time. Running different routes keeps things interesting for me and makes my runs fly by!

  • samantha September 5, 2012, 7:14 am

    love the top picture to display anywhere in the house and the bottom yawning picture to put in his room to remind him that it’s sleepy time there!

  • Leah September 5, 2012, 9:08 am

    I am 200% type A – I need to know where I am going and the distance I am going to cover. I also think its a good idea safety wise – my partner knows where abouts I am, and what time I am expecting to be back. In saying that – some safety sites recommend you change up your route so that no one can follow you! So it’s 50 of one and 10 of another really.

  • EmilyFF September 5, 2012, 11:21 am

    I am SOOOO Type A. We just moved out of our perfect apartment in our perfect neighborhood with my perfect 3, 5, 7, and 10 mile loops that start and end right on our door step (can you tell I hate change?) to a new city. It is so hard for me to motivate myself to go out when I’m so unfamiliar with my surroundings. I know I just need to get up and do it, but it’s just miserable for me.

  • Brigid September 5, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I’m Type A, though after a few months, I do like to change up my route. Same thing with any routine, actually. So maybe I’m Type A with slight ADD? Ha.

  • eatingRD September 5, 2012, 6:43 pm

    I like mixing it up with a few different routes to keep it cozy yet interesting. It’s nice because our townhouse backs up by a 34-mile path free of traffic that goes around lake mead 🙂 Congrats on your new house and baby boy!

  • Kelly September 6, 2012, 10:35 pm

    I am definitely type A. As an aspiring urban planner, cul-de-sacs really do make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

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