Eastbank Esplanade – Portland, OR

No one likes interval training. People who tell you they “love intervals” are liars and you shouldn’t be friends with them. I once went running with a girl that I liked and she told me that she loved to do intervals. I kicked her in the shin and continued my dry spell. The only good part of intervals is that they actually work. And they make beer taste better.

My solution for the monotonous punishment interval running entails is to try to do it in a great setting that provides a distraction. The East Side Esplanade is one of my favorite areas to do interval training; long, straight sections that are relatively flat, great views of Portland’s skyline and easy access from downtown. The map below shows the section between the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges: a 2.5 mile loop. Because of its accessibility, the Esplanade is often full of bikers and runners. However, it rarely gets busy enough to cause much of a hassle. Watch out at night though; although lit, the Esplanade abuts some areas where Portland’s street people camp out. Make sure you are prepared to kick some shins.

One of the great things about the Esplanade is that it provides a good warm up before heading into the West Hills or through the Pearl District; the Esplanade’s accessibility makes it an ideal way to kick off a run through Portland. Many a night have been spent running from the Esplanade into the Pearl District. Intervals + pretty people spotting = less anger.

Distance: 2.75 mile loop between the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges

Directions: from downtown Portland (4th and Taylor St.) simply head west toward the river and the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The path is paved all the way around, with a pedestrian bridge over the Steel Bridge and a designated bike/foot lane on the Hawthorne Bridge. To get onto the Hawthorne bridge; there are either stairs or ramps up to the bridge on both the north and south side of it.

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