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Cate Barrett, 31, has lived in Austin, Texas, her whole life. We talked to the Haute Volée runner and 2:43 marathoner to find out why runners love living there—and where visiting runners should hit up.
Built-In Heat Training
The summer heat in this Texas city is no joke, with highs averaging from 92 to 97 from June through August. Barrett remembers the summer of 2011, where they endured 90 days of 100-plus degrees.
But don’t let the heat discourage you. Barrett reminds that your summer paces may be slow, but the heat training pays off immensely. “You won’t see the fruit of that labor until the first 60 degree day, and then it just feels like you’ve been shot out of a cannon,” she says.
Why Austin for Running?
Besides the appeal of being able to run year-round, Barrett loves how active Austin is as a whole. She feels connected to running even on her days off, as she drives around and is sure to see plenty of other runners out there. “It’s like everybody knows what that sport looks like and has an idea about it even if they’re not runners. It’s really easy to feel connected to it, I think,” she says.
The running groups in Austin are active and plentiful as well, offering something for everyone. “People identify really strongly by their group that they train with,” says Barrett. With those strong allegiances, it’s not uncommon for some friendly competition to arise. “But people do move between the different groups, and I’ve found all of them to be quite welcoming,” she adds.
Must-Try Run Routes
You don’t have to go far to find some of the best running in the city. The trail around Lady Bird Lake (or Town Lake as the Austinites call it, part of the Colorado River) is the place to go. The well-taken care of 10-mile loop is continually being upgraded with new amenities, says Barrett. If you’re looking for a variety in distance, bridges along the trail can change the run to a shorter three, four, five, or seven-mile loop. “It’s the heart of downtown,” she says.
It’s no secret that Austin has become a trendy spot, which means there’s no wanting for good food and drinks. “We’re a very brunch-forward town,” says Barrett.
For a post-run taco, she recommends Taco Flats. If you’re feeling reckless (or visiting later in the day), the frozen mezcal margarita is one of her favorites: “It’s a little sweet and a little smoky.” Or, you can do what Barrett and her husband often do: Divide and conquer to grab post-run tacos from Taco Flats and coffee from Caffe Medici, right across the street.
Beating the Heat
Austin runners know just how to train in the heat of the summer. Namely, running early or late (like 5:30 am early); hydrating well (drinking fountains are plentiful); and pulling back on intensity. But Barrett shares the best way to cool down after a run: A quick swim in the Barton Springs Pool. The natural spring-fed pool stays a cool 68 to 70 degrees year-round. With an emphasis on natural, the beautiful body of water is full of vegetation, fish, and even the endangered Barton Springs salamander. “If you had to hit one of the one places in Texas, this would be one of them.”
Located right off of Lady Bird Lake, you could easily start and end your run there. “It’s just the most refreshing way to start your day or end it,” Barrett says.