10 Tips for Traveling Runners!
Is your new job about to send you out on the road fairly often? Heading off for an impromptu world tour? Well, don't forget to bring your running gear! Running is the simplest, best way to keep in shape while on a trip. You can run with just a small amount of fairly light and economical equipment, you don't need to make reservations or try to find others to play against. Just slip on your running clothes and head out the door, day or night.
Running also has the huge advantage that you will also see much more of your new surroundings while you're at it. You will have seen the neighborhoods, heard the street music, smelled the food, felt the local breezes on your face, while your non-running colleagues back at the hotel bar will be grumbling about never seeing anything but hotels and airports.
So, how do you prepare to best take advantage of your home-away runs?
1. Make sure you have an extra lightweight bag for your running kit. There's nothing worse than having your stinky running socks packed up in your suitcase with the other clothes at the end of the trip. The bag should have a shoulder strap, so if you need to take it to a fitness center or somewhere else, you can do it easily. Get a smaller inner bag for your shoes, which can really get muddy -- a simple plastic shopping bag will do.
2. Your best bet is to have easily washable running clothes, ones that can easily dry out overnight, made of nylon. I wash my shorts after every run and hang them up in the hotel bathroom, ready for the next day. Imagine how bad the room will smell if you don't!
3. Bring extra reflectors if you don't already have reflective jogging gear, and maybe a headlamp. You will probably be doing your running in early mornings or evenings, where it can be pretty dark during the winter.
4. Check out your destination beforehand for good routes. I like to use Google Maps and StreetView to find nearby parks and quiet areas. Also check sites like this one, www.joggingroutes.org for route tips. Other sites like www.walkjogrun.com and www.mapmyrun.com can also be a big help, but they often have huge numbers of undescribed runs, with no pictures.
5. Get hold of a map of the area before you head out for your runs, and study it before you leave the hotel room. Most hotels have simple tourist maps at the reception, or they'll photocopy a section for you. Note the main direction of the run, and some of the main street names. Check the relative position of the sun or other landmarks when you leave the hotel. If you have a GPS smartphone, perfect, but make sure it's charged up enough that it doesn't go dead halfway through the run. And don't expect it to work everywhere: I've had problems with GPS not working in forests.
6. Bring a mobile phone: know the local emergency numbers to call. Even if you don't have a modern smartphone, try to get one with useful sports features, like a built-in lamp and compass, and make sure it's fairly waterproof. There are silicon cases that can help with the water resistance: they're great during unexpected rains. And if it has a decent built-in camera, you'll be sure to get the most interesting shots of your trip while running.
7. Bring a waterproof watch. A cheap waterproof watch is much better on your run than the nice one you would normally bring for work. Especially, in shorefront areas, you might even want to jump into the waves without leaving your expensive watch lying in the sand with your shoes.
8. Research the weather beforehand, and pack accordingly. If heading to wintery climes, make sure you have a cap to cover your ears, and some way to protect your hands (gloves or long sleeves that can cover them). The keyword here is layering. Bring a few thin, light-weight pieces and peel them off as you warm up. The more light-weight and compact they are, the more you'll value them over time.
9. Ask some locals where they would run. You often get tips about places you would have never known about. If you are on a work trip, you will have chances to ask the local people for tips. They'll be glad to share their ideas. Maybe a few are even runners themselves. Hotel receptions don't always know good routes, but occasionally you'll get a good tip there.
10. Enjoy it! I never push myself for personal records when I'm on a trip, but let myself enjoy whatever is there, waiting to be experienced. Each town or area has its own character, its own vistas and panoramas. I give myself permission to stop wherever I feel the urge, or look into a shop window, scan the horizon from a scenic point, watch a street performer, wander slowly through an especially lively street-scene or park. Remember: this is your premium time while underway, and each moment will come only once. Seize the moment!
And now click here to look up your first traveling routes!