As I sit here at YVR waiting to board yet another flight, this time home to the UK for a brief visit, I’m reminded of the amazing world we live in, where hopping across the Atlantic or down to the states (as some Whistlerites have done for spring break) is pretty easy. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of travelling, especially during my time as a runner and one thing I relish about heading somewhere new, is getting out and running. In fact it’s become a vital travel tool for me, a great way to explore new places and a chance to see as much as possible, even during a brief stay. I ran at every stop along my recent trip to New Zealand, Oz and Japan and I can’t rate it highly enough. From recent conversations I’ve had with other runners, I’ve realised that some do not find it so easy to run outdoors in a new and unfamiliar place and to stick to training whilst away from home. So with this in mind I have compiled a few tips I’ve learned along the way for a safe and enjoyable run whilst on holiday. I hope you find these helpful and get out there…
Safety first: It’s obvious really, but us runners can be a stubborn bunch when it comes to breaking our ‘at home’ habits, such as running without a phone. But in an unfamiliar place I think it’s pretty sensible to be prepared, so you can get out there and focus on having fun. Simple things like having access to a phone and carrying a small map of the area are good options, as well as running during daylight hours and carrying a little cash, even if you only use it for a post-run coffee!
Head for water: In my experience, heading for the coast or a major river is a sure-fire way to find a rewarding running route. Rivers are especially great for lone runners, because they usually have great traffic-free paths along their banks and by running a straightforward ‘out and back’ route it’s almost impossible to get lost! Often some of the best views are to be had on these running routes and there are usually other runners around too for reassurance. I’ve done some of my most enjoyable runs along rivers in Paris, Brisbane, Stockholm, Tokyo, Philadelphia and London, so this approach has definitely worked for me in otherwise busy and confusing cities.
Seek out other runners: The great thing about the huge popularity of running is that there are specialist stores, clubs and training groups in almost every community, ready to welcome drop-in runners. Doing a bit of research beforehand, or making enquiries in-store can lead to a hook-up to some advice from the locals or even a guided running tour.
Go with the flow: The thing I like most about running around new places is taking in the views I pass and even stopping to appreciate a particularly breathtaking sight or to take photos. On these occasions, it seems a waste to get too hung up on pace or time and just run for pleasure and to savour the sights. I find it’s also a pretty good move to be flexible on my intended distance, because inevitable wrong turns and detours will happen…but that’s just part of the fun!