It’s Travel Tip Tuesday! Here’s a post from 21 October 2015.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you travel? Try new foods? See new sites? My favorite thing to do when I travel is run in a new place. It’s something my husband Steve and I enjoy doing together; we like to get a feel for the city we’re in and find a game plan for getting a closer look later on. Some of my favorite stories Steve told me before we got married are his stories of running all over the world–over mountains in Croatia, watching out for rabid dogs in Africa, running all the way up to the top of Diamond Head in Honolulu, and meeting his future wife just a couple of days before running the Prague Marathon!
So how do I make sure I don’t get lost? What do I do about safety? What about cold places? What about cobblestones in old cities? All these answers and more are coming your way! Here are some tips and things to think about when running abroad.
1. Safety First!
My number one travel priority is safety. This doesn’t mean I live in fear, it means I’m aware of my surroundings, and I travel smart! I have this thing called a Flip Belt, that goes around my waist like a belt (not like a fanny pack) and holds my phone, ID, cash, credit card, keys, and anything I might need to take with me. It’s also reflective!
One thing I don’t use earbuds when I run in a new city is earbuds. I want to be able to hear what’s going on around me without distractions. I also trust my gut if I think someone might be following me. I’ve never had bad experience, and I don’t want to start!
One more note on safety: one may think, “I have all my information in my phone–name, phone number, contacts, GPS, etc. But what if your phone gets stolen? Take your ID with you. If you don’t have or want to get a flip belt, put it in a pocket or in your sports bra.
2. Rough Terrain
Sorry to break it to you, but, you will encounter less than perfect running conditions! Not every place you go will have perfect trails, sidewalks, or even paved roads! Steve was running in Italy a few years ago, and he tripped and fell into a ravine leading into the Italian Riviera. It happens. When Steve and I met, he was preparing to run the Prague marathon–on cobblestone streets! When Steve and I ran together on Floreana Island in the Galapagos, there were literally no paved roads, just gravel, first, and loose rocks–prime for tripping. Here’s a visual:
So, what do you do about that? First of all, watch where you’re going! You do not want a sprained ankle or skinned knee during vacation, so watch out.
Also, ask around to see if there are any good running trails or long stretches of sidewalk. If there’s a river or other body of water nearby, there is probably a good place to run or walk close to it. Even in the tiny Nova Scotian town of Pictou, the owner of the inn where we stayed told me about a beautiful boardwalk down by the shoreline. I never would have known about it otherwise!
3. Avoid Getting Lost
I always keep a map with me. We like to carry a small hardcopy with us, but we also use the MapMyRun app. Steve has had a couple of GPS watches over the years, and none of them would sync up out of the country, but the app syncs quickly.
The best part of this app is that it show you where you’ve been. So, if you’re like Steve and me in Oslo, Norway, you can zoom in and out as needed to see where you are and how to get back to where you need to be! The only downside is that if you don’t have an international phone plan that includes data, you’ll need to start the app when you’re within a Wi-Fi zone–like your hotel or a restaurant that provides free Wi-Fi. Also remember that you’ll have to save your workout when you’re reconnected to Wi-Fi!
4. Running in Extreme Temperatures and Remembering Etiquette
Running in hot weather: wear light clothes! Just make sure that wherever you go, you won’t be offending the locals. For instance, when Steve and I go to Vietnam later this year, I won’t be taking shorts or tank tops for running because it’s not appropriate for women there. Groan all you want about how women should be able to do what they want with their bodies, I’d rather wear capri running pants and a t-shirt and avoid offending people in their homeland!
Running in cold weather: Bring running pants! Or yoga pants. Long socks help, too, and don’t be afraid to double up on socks if it’s really cold! For reference, when we ran in 35-degree Vienna a couple of weeks ago, I wore one pair of socks, running shoes, running pants, a long-sleeve t-shirt, a light pullover, and an ear warmer. A rule of thumb I read about recently is to dress about 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. So, for a 35-degree day, I dressed for what would help me be comfortable walking in 55-degree temps.
5. But I’m on Vacation! I Don’t Want to Run!
Well, there’s really no quick fix for this one. Definitely have fun on your trip, wherever you go! You’ll likely be walking a lot in any new place you go, but I still like to start every other day or so with a run as well. I just feel more energized for my day, and it helps me make a plan for what’s around me and what may not be worth going back to if seeing it from the outside is enough. But bear in mind that while you’re out and running about, you may stumble upon a delightful local treat. Like this super hydrating fresh coconut water in the Galapagos! That’s why I like to keep some cash on me.
6. Running in High Altitudes
Do not plan to run your first couple of days in a high-altitude city! For instance, Quito, Ecuador, is the world’s highest capitol city. Steve and I were there for just one day, and we didn’t bother running. That high altitude is no joke! Even just walking up a hill took the wind right out of us! Stay hydrated, bring ibuprofen in case of headaches, and even take it easy on the walking if you’ve got hills to contend with. Your body will get used to it in a couple of days, but if you’re going over 10,000 feet up, plan to take it easy so you don’t wear yourself out or make yourself sick.
Something to bear in mind about what exactly is “high” altitude: airplanes are pressurized for 8,000 feet, and while you should try to stay hydrated at that altitude, it won’t make your as exhausted as 11,000 feet or more. Your body will adjust after a few days, but it’s best not to push it!
7. Running Tours
This is one FUN way to get your running in and see the sites at the same time! I have to admit that I haven’t done one of these myself yet, but my friend Valarie did a running tour in Barcelona and just raved about it! She said they ran for about 15 minutes, then stopped to hear about a site and learn some history. Then they ran off to the next place! The whole tour lasted a couple of hours, but even a beginning runner would be able to keep up because of the frequent breaks.
One downside I’ve noted in researching these is that they can be pricey, especially if you’re going with a private guide instead of a group. And if you don’t like running with other people, this may not be for you. But on the up side, you’re getting a quality run and a quality tour with a local! Just look how happy my friend Val and her guide were while running around Barcelona:
Thanks for reading. What’s your favorite city for a run?