Though many passions people are blessed with seem to be counter-intuitive to one another, my passion for running and travel have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember. Being a person who gets quite anxious/irritable/strange/angry when I don’t get my daily run in, I know that even while traveling abroad, I need to incorporate it into my daily schedule.
Having been blessed to run on five of the seven continents (and knocking Asia off of the list in a few days!) I’ve been able to experience what running in different cultures as an American looks like. Here are some tips to help make your runs abroad more enjoyable.
Dress to fit the culture: I’m a big fan of running in shorty shorts and shirtless, but this doesn’t always fly while abroad. Learn the culture you are going to run in, and if it is more conservative, pack (and dress) appropriately.
Use running to learn the landscape: Especially for those who run longer distances, running is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Using running to see a new place allows you to get in your exercise, as well as create an understanding of where you are. If you are less directionally inclined, using an out and back method will help you hit your distance and keep from getting lost. If you are a person who can memorize streets and add in a few turns, this will allow you to scope out even more of your new environment, and help you figure out where your day will take you post-run.
Keep ID, money and addresses on your person: This is essential. It may be uncomfortable to run with junk in your pocket, but if the worst happens, you need to be prepared. If you get lost while trying to navigate your run, being able to hail a cab or take public transportation back to where you are can be a life saver. If something unthinkable unfortunately happens, or you find yourself in a real tight jam, having your ID will do wonders.
Have fun and be open: Often times when traveling to the developing world, as an American (and hobby jogger/runner), you are an anomaly. People are social beings; if you find yourself joined by a pack of kids or an aspiring athlete, roll with the punches. Slow your pace, or let your new friends dictate it. If there is a language barrier, try and use some word-less communication. This will help break the ice, and you’ll be surprised when the people who joined you jogging will pop up throughout your stay.