One of the best ways to explore a new destination is to go running. Running while traveling gives you the chance to see layouts and landmarks of a new place, discover unexpected must-sees, and absorb the local vibe. Plus, you squeeze in some exercise!
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 when it comes to running while traveling.
1) 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?
2) Plan your route
Create your route. Identify the sights you’d like to take in or restaurants you want to check out.
3) Follow someone else’s steps
Chances are, wherever you are visiting, someone has run. Consult runnersworld’s route finder tool or check out walkjogrun for recommended routes and reviews. You can even search by desired distance.
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.
4) Pack accordingly
Check the weather forecast.
Will you need shorts or tights to go running while traveling? 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!
5) 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.
6) Stay safe: running while traveling
Tell someone where you’re going — whether a hotel clerk or a friend locally. Share your location with someone else. Share the route you’ll be traveling.
If you’re in a Muslim or conservative country, cover up more than you typically would.
Running while traveling is usually very safe, but you do need to exercise caution. Try to stay in city limits and not travel too far outside of the path you pre-determined. Stick to streets where there are businesses or at least homes.
Don’t be afraid to use your voice to scream or make noise if you feel threatened while running.
Be cautious, but not paranoid. Running while traveling is normally totally safe, you just have to be smart about it!