If you’ve traveled much you know that one of the toughest things to maintain on the road is an exercise routine. No matter where you travel, the easiest excuse to invent is the one to skip exercise.
As it happened, I started jogging about the same time I started traveling internationally. And from the beginning, I was committed to not blowing my fitness routine just because I was on the road. So whether I’m traveling domestically or abroad, one of my priorities at each stop is planning my run.
Over the years I’ve developed a strategy for getting in a jog. With a little planning you get this:
Ignore the preparation and you get this:
So if you’re traveling and want to get some miles in try these ideas:
1. Say to yourself, “This ain’t home.”
Runners, down to the depths of their DNA, are creatures of habit. And no matter how simple and easy your regular routine is, you won’t be able to duplicate it on the road. So instead of lamenting the changes, celebrate being in a new, exciting place and take the time to notice and appreciate the differences.
2. Plan your route so you don’t get lost.
No matter how good your memory is, if you don’t plan a bit, there’s a chance of getting lost. This is where maps come in. Take your choice: old school or new school.
The old school solution is a small paper map which you carry along. Study it before hand, plot a simple route, and keep to it. Pay attention to turns, landmarks, street names, and most importantly, mark your hotel on the map. I try to minimize the number of turns, and when I turn, I pick out a landmark (e.g. right at Lenin Statue, left at McDonalds).
New school is basically a cell phone with GPS, a map app, and googling “running routes + place name.” Having a cellphone with your route plotted in real time is a distinct advantage and gives you lots of flexibility, but the downside is having to constantly look at the phone to monitor your progress.
3. Choose a hotel or apartment close to a park or green space.
If you’re like me, you want to walk out of your hotel or apartment, stretch a bit, and then jog away. So a hotel within a few blocks of a park or green space is the way to go. I’d much rather run 10 times around a small city park or soccer field than dodge cars, cross busy streets, and worry about being flattened by a bus – a very real possibility in some of the places I’ve visited.
4. Find a body of water: a lake, river, or ocean will do.
Most cities that are blessed with a natural water feature take advantage of it by adding pedestrian paths – pure jogger’s nirvana.
5. Research to find the closest ritzy neighborhood.
People that spend a bundle on their homes want to live in quiet, clean areas. Posh neighborhoods normally mean jogging in the street, but traffic is almost always low and slow. Does this sound like a perfect place to run?
6. Think about safety.
It may sound obvious, but the first rule of security is not running in questionable areas. If you have concerns or don’t know the area, ask at the hotel desk or check tourist books and online information. In my experience, if it feels unsafe it probably is.
Unfortunately, in many places in the world women runners face safety issues that aren’t necessarily a problem for men. Laura, at This Runner’s Recipes has an informative post of Realistic Safety Tips for For Female Runners.
Always carry ID and enough local currency to grab a taxi or uber back to the hotel. I recommend carrying a laminated copy of the photo page of your passport. Also, carry a business card from your hotel with your name, and the name of your emergency contact written on the back.
7. Plan your run early in the morning.
An early start won’t necessarily make your run easier, but it will almost certainly be more pleasant. The world is quiet and just waking up; shopkeepers are arranging sidewalk fruit bins, florists are tending their flowers, and cats are slinking home from their nighttime hunt. It’s a special time and no matter what your day has in store, an upbeat start will make it better.
Every city and every jogger is different, but following these tips will remove some uncertainty and add some fun to your run no matter where you are.
Do you have a favorite tip to share? We’d love to hear it.
Happy Running Trails,