Running While Travelling

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Running while on a trip can be a pain, but it can also be more than worth the effort.  While running can provided much needed physical and mental benefits while travelling, the best reasons are the unexpected ones: the unforeseen city views surrounded by a sunrise or sunset, the hidden street of independent stores, the tiny neighborhood full of art, or the lone recreational trail with skittery wildlife. Here are some ways to minimize the inconveniences of travel-running and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity of running in a new city.

Overcome the Hurdles

Limited Luggage Space

Packing extra exercise clothes and shoes in a bag that already has a premium on space can pose a logistical challenge.  As long as you can fit your running shoes, it should be easy to squeeze in your running shirt and pants as well.  Often when I travel, I need a few different types of shoes for different events or settings.  This can take up a lot of luggage room, so sometimes I’ll wear my running shoes as my casual shoes during the flight to save on space.  

Unknown Routes and Trails

Finding a viable route in an unknown city can be fairly difficult, confusing, intimidating or even dangerous if you don’t know what areas to avoid.  Online tools are a great help here.  MapMyRun contains many great, searchable routes made by locals in every city for any particular distance you are looking for.  Google Maps will often display recreational trails in light grey which are great to use for going on runs without worrying about directions or turns.  Another great option is to find nearby parks and public spaces to use as a rewarding destination for your run.

Packed Schedules

Finding the time to run could be the hardest part of running while traveling. You may have meetings and dinners if it’s a business trip or a busy day of museums and sightseeing if you are on vacation.  If you are a morning person, you could remedy this by waking up 45 minutes earlier a few times a week to get in a quick 30 minute jog.  For evening runners, planning ahead to leave yourself some time between work and dinner is always helpful.  If it’s a business trip you may be able to talk with your boss about leaving 45 minutes early for the day to get in some personal-health time.  Employers are often very open to helping a person stay fit, especially while traveling.  If you are staying over a weekend, longer runs can be much easier to accomplish my mid-morning before heading off to your next destination. 

Mental and Physical Exhaustion

Travelling can provide situations that are more mentally and physically exhausting for everyone; hauling around bags, lots of walking or public transportation, increased mental focus on new subjects, being “on” for more hours of the day.  Adding exercise to this mix might feel like additional work but if you can power through you will feel more refreshed, energized and accomplished despite putting in that additional work.  See my post about motivation for personalized tactics to get yourself motivated to go for that run.

Experience the benefits

Fighting against all these factors can be exhausting just by itself, but if you can do it, the reward is incredibly worth it for a number of reasons.

Staying fit

Traveling gets you out of your normal habits and schedules which can disrupt eating patterns.  This, along with the increased frequency of unhealthy restaurant, airport and convenience store foods can cause a bit of weight gain. Running is a great way to combat this and keep the increased pounds from rich restaurant foods in check.

Exploration

If you want to see a city, going for a jog helps you understand what’s out there very quickly.  You get to know the layout of the city, see stores or restaurants you’ll want to visit later on, and get away from the touristy areas to view a slice of how the locals live their lives on a daily basis.

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Mental and Emotional Clarity

We have all seen studies that show how exercising can improve mental and emotional  well-being.  This can be very useful when traveling in helping you relax and get more enjoyment out of your trip.  Running during a trip can help you be more in the moment when you aren’t running, and to be more emotionally flexible when plans change as they often do.

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Beautiful new scenery and wildlife

Exploring a city by car can feel detached with all that glass and metal between you and the sights, sounds and smells. Additionally, the city goes by way too fast to really take it all in. You can experience fall in the park or hear spring in the chirping birds, you can see colorful neon signs reflect off your skin and hear the noise of music in the distance, or see the beautiful clouds in the sunset and hear a stream babbling a few steps away.  You may not even fully notice it then but if you take it all in, it will stick with you fondly for a long time afterward. 

How do you exercise when you travel? What are your biggest hurdles to overcome and what are your favorite reasons for overcoming them?