4 Tips for Running While Traveling
I started running four years ago, and since then, my running shoes are one of the first things I throw into my suitcase when I head off on my adventures. Logging miles is my escape during my regular life, and I enjoy that time even more when I get to spend them seeing new places.
Whether you have a race on the horizon or just can’t imagine your life without running, here are some tips for hitting the pavement when you’re jet-setting.
1. BE FLEXIBLE
Ultimately, your goal should still be to enjoy your time in this new place. Don’t stress yourself about getting the mileage you planned or hitting your goal pace. Give yourself the time and space to just enjoy this new atmosphere.
When planning out your runs, schedule them to take a few minutes more than the same distance would at home. This way, you can stop and take a picture of that incredible view, that weird statue, or, well, to get lost and then found again.
Since you’re not familiar with the terrain, it’s also likely that you’ll slow down as you try to find that turn or remember which street you came from.
If you’re lucky, you might be travelling with someone who also loves to run. Even if running is usually a solo activity for you or your partner runs slower, spend a few miles with them enjoying your new surroundings.
Running tours are also growing in popularity. These can be a great option if you are looking to hang out with a local and get acquainted with a city on your first day there without giving up your run.
Hopefully, you’re traveling with someone who can go on your runs with you. If you are not, you don’t have to give up on your runs! However, before your journey begins let your travel buddies know that this is something you will be doing.
Also, plan on completing them during a time that does not interfere with your group’s plans (i.e. early morning). If your travel partners are anything like mine, they will just be happy that you’re getting rid of your excess energy!
If you are going out solo, make sure that your travel partners have a good idea of your route (show them on a map), how long you will be gone, what your plan is if you find yourself in danger, and where you are meeting after.
Though it may seem silly, if you’re running before everyone wakes up, also make sure you clearly communicate how you plan on getting back into the place you’re staying - you don’t want to end up locked out!
Traveling completely solo? Make sure that all of your belongings are in a safe and secure place before heading out and that someone is aware of your plans.
Before you arrive in this new place, take some time to study the maps of the places where you are staying.
Are there notable landmarks that can help orient you? How are the streets arranged - is it a grid system?
Though you don’t need to memorize the entire map, having familiarity with some of the surroundings will put you at ease as you head out.
When it comes to planning your route, first do a Google search of “running in ---” or “best runs in ---.” Most of the time, multiple forums will pop up with plenty of tips and pre-planned routes.
Running Routes has plenty of options in Europe, Australia, and the US. Runner social media can also help you find places frequented by runners; try the “Segment Explore” features with Strava and Garmin Connect.
You can even look into running groups in the places you are visiting and try to drop in. Running groups are generally incredibly welcoming, and probably wouldn’t mind if you didn’t even speak the same language!
If you still cannot find a route that is convenient, first go back to your map and see if you can find a nearby pedestrian trail or a decently sized park nearby. Using an app like MapMyRun can help you anticipate the length of your run and even other elements like crazy hills.
When in doubt, keep it simple and make it an out and back (it reduces your chances of getting lost) or just run laps around a nearby park. I always pop into Google Street-view on a few spots on my planned route to make sure that the terrain looks safe (Are there sidewalks? How busy is that road?).
Check the weather and the sunrise and sunset time for your destinations before you leave. Remember that a high of 55 degrees does not mean that it will be 55 degrees when you wake up before the sun rises. Layers are beautiful and keep you comfortable.
Recognize that customs may be different in the place you are visiting and your typical running attire may not be appropriate. Plan and pack accordingly.
4. PRIORITIZE YOUR SAFETY
Your goal is to enjoy your runs, and it’s pretty challenging to do that if you are constantly afraid of getting lost or worse.
Run with your phone; even if you are not using data, the Bluetooth option will still help you locate yourself on the map if you get turned around. If you get yourself into a really dangerous situation, be willing to quickly turn that data on to get yourself out of it.
Inform yourself of the country’s emergency code and how to say help in the local language. You can equip yourself with a running belt (FlipBelt is the original) or a phone arm band to keep everything handy. I always tuck a few dollars worth of the local currency into mine in case of emergency (or to grab a cup of coffee at the end).
Temperature and humidity vary from place to place, so make sure that you are hydrating appropriately before, during, and after your runs. Don’t be that person who gets heat exhaustion during their run on vacation.
On top of that, traveling often means walking more than we typically do, which may make you more tired than usual. Cut your run short if your body is telling you to stop.
If it puts your mind at ease, carry pepper spray, get trained in self-defense, or whatever else floats your boat. Many runners do, and it is always cool to be prepared.
Still not comfortable heading out? Find yourself a treadmill, a local workout class, or just do a bit of yoga in your hotel room.
Running in a new place can help you discover local gems and get a much better feel for the place. If you are able and willing to do so, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
Now get out there and hit the road!