Running is a way to explore new places during your trip, if you’re prepared.
If you’re heading out to lands unknown this summer, pack your running shoes and make plans to see new places. We asked a few well-traveled women their best advice for sticking to the training schedule while on vacation.
Run with your phone. “I thought I had a great sense of direction, but I’ve learned I have a horrible sense of direction,” says Emily Infeld, a 2016 Olympian in the 10,000 meters. But don’t miss out on the scenery by constantly trying to snap selfies.
Pro Tip: Load a map while you have WiFi and then switch your phone to airplane mode—you’ll still be able to see where you are without roaming charges or text message distractions.
But, also embrace exploration. Unlike Infeld, Cat Beck, assistant professor of geosciences at Hamilton College, and 11-time D3 All-America track and cross country runner at Tufts University hardly ever brings her phone on her runs. Getting lost can be part of the adventure, she says. “Maybe you’ll get a few extra miles in, but it’s not the end of the world. Just pay attention to your surroundings so you can get yourself home.”
Tap into the local running community. Run clubs and meetups will quickly expose you to a area’s greatest routes—and its culture. Iman Wilkerson, founder and CEO of Step By Step Run and PacePartner app, hosts runs through San Diego, offering tourists a taste of local flare. She’s also developing PacePartner, to find local races, hire a local run buddy (Uber for runners!), and join running groups.
Copy race courses. Checking out a race’s website is a good way to find a credible running route, and you can use its map for guidance.
Study Google Maps. When planning a trip, take advantage of Google Maps satellite view, which gives you an idea of how congested streets are and what neighborhoods look like. “I pride myself in being really good at picking a hotel that’s close to a good running area,” says Sam Roecker, an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. “I spend a lot of time stalking Google Maps, hotels, street view, and looking in different directions.”
Look for a river. Chances are if you’ve found a river, you’ve found a bike path or towpath that will go for miles.
Pack lightweight shoes. Running shoes can take up precious suitcase space. One solution is to wear your shoes during travel. Or bring lightweight shoes, which will pack easily and serve you on your vacation miles.
Bring a few bucks. Tuck them in your sports bra or a pocket in case you need a snack or a taxi.
Be your group’s tour guide. When Beck travels with non-runner friends, she likes to duck out early for a run and get a lay of the land. Then when it’s time to hit the town, she already has an idea of where the group should go and how to get there. Fair warning: Destinations seem a lot closer when you’re running than when you’re strolling.
Plan sightseeing wisely. If you’re traveling for a race, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new city. Before you know it, you’ve walked five or six miles. Save the longer sightseeing walks for after your race so you don’t overdo it before you toe the line.