If you’ve traveled much, you know that one of the toughest things to maintain on the road is an exercise routine. This is true no matter where you travel. I started jogging in 1981, which is also when I started traveling with my job. From the beginning, I was determined, if at all possible, to get my regular shot of endorphins no matter where I traveled.
Therefore, one of my first priorities in each stop is finding a place to jog. In most places, particularly big, hectic cities like Athens, this is harder than you might think. Yesterday I found my route, and I am a happy camper.
Over the years, in my domestic and international travels, I have found a number of tips that help to locate somewhere reasonable to get a little exercise. With a little planning you get this …
And with no planning you get this.
1. Say to yourself, “This ain’t home.”
This is not your regular route that has taken years to perfect, so make no comparisons. Relax and enjoy a new experience, and feel lucky that you have somewhere new to run for a change.
2. Get a hotel as close to a park or greenspace as possible.
It may not be really close, and it may take a little time to get there, but jogging 10 times around a small park or soccer field is better than running in traffic.
3. Try to find a body of water, a lake or river will do.
In many places, there is a path or sidewalk either around the lake or along the river. This means that at least one side of the trail will not have streets or traffic.
4. Ask around and find the closest ritzy neighborhood.
People that spend a bundle on their homes want to live in a quiet, clean, low traffic neighborhood. Does this sound like a perfect place to run?
5. Get a map and study it.
This may sound like a pain, but a little prep is better than getting lost in a strange city. Pay attention to landmarks, remember where you turned, and most importantly where your hotel is. (Mark it on the map and carry it with you.) Also, a map will show the long, straight streets, which decrease your chances of getting lost.
6. Drive a short distance if necessary.
Have you ever had a hotel on one side of the interstate when all the cool stuff is on the other? I only drive as a last resort, but sometimes you have to.
7. Plan your run early in the morning.
An early start won’t necessarily make your run easier, but I promise it will make it more pleasant. The world is quiet and just waking up. The shopkeepers are carefully arranging their goods, old ladies are tending the flowers, and cats are stretching on the porches. It’s a special time of day and it feels great knowing that only you and a few others are experiencing it…or maybe it’s just the endorphins.
P.S. I shot this short video on my run yesterday. It’s the Call to Prayers in a small Orthodox Church in the park closest to my apartment in Athens. This is the kind of experience I love stumbling into on my early morning runs.