One of the best ways to check out a new locale is to go for a sightseeing run.
You familiarize yourself with layouts and landmarks, discover unexpected must-sees and absorb the local vibe. Oh, plus you squeeze in some exercise (if you’re anything like me, you think calories consumed in a foreign country don’t translate)!
If you hate running, maybe you just hate it on the treadmill or around your same ‘ole neighborhood. Trying a slow jog in a fresh setting while focusing on your surroundings might get your mind off the physical component.
Since I run daily and travel frequently, I spend a lot of time running in unfamiliar places, including souks and red light districts and along marshy riverbanks and busy highways. Here are some tips that have served me well:
- Get a feel for the area
Consult a map to see how the area is laid out. Get a satellite view if you can. Does a river or a park bound the city? Is there a tangle of railroad tracks or does the area look desolate?
Check the terrain.
Before traveling to Luxembourg for the first time, I consulted my usual guides and saw many inviting, broad loops that toured through the entire city. Then I consulted the elevation map and saw the many dramatic rises and falls. Ouch! Needless to say, I opted for one of the less lateral routes.
Research the neighborhoods you’re considering. Are there any dangerous sections? Are there commercial neighborhoods that might be crowded during morning rush hour or tourist areas that might be congested around dinnertime?
- Plan your route
Create your route. Identify the sights you’d like to take in or restaurants you want to check out.
Follow someone else’s steps.
Ask the hotel for recommendations or for a running map. Most hotels have a pre-printed map with options.
If you don’t always have time to plot out exact routes, try a GPS watch. It calculates mileage and other data points I won’t bore you with here, and gets you back to where you began.
- Pack accordingly
Check the weather forecast.
Will you need shorts or running tights? A windbreaker or a tee? If the forecast calls for rain or snow, keep in mind that it’s still enjoyable to run in inclement weather if you have the appropriate gear. A bonus to running in bad weather (yes, there is one!) is that the streets are empty and you have the city to yourself!
- Make it social
Is there an accompanied jogging tour offered at your destination?
These are usually limited to small groups and are led by a local who will call your attention to sights and answer any questions. Typically, the pace is leisurely and various distances are available.
Hook up with the local running club. Check online for a local running community or ask at the hotel.
Find a partner. Use social media to ask friends and locals for a referral or use Meetup or WalkJogRun to contact a local runner who can show you around. Running camaraderie transcends borders and most runners love to show others their favorite paths.
What has been your favorite running experience? If running’s not your thing, what do you do to stay fit while on the road?