Friday, June 26, 2015

GUEST POST: "Running While On Vacation" By LetsRun4Ever

Summer is here, and unless you are someone who lives in a warmer climate year-round, you can’t imagine the excitement we here in the Midwest look forward to our summertime. It may not last all that long, but when the leaves start to turn in a few months we will have all squeezed every ounce out of summer that we could.

With warm weather – and time off from work and school – summer is a perfect time for travel and vacations. Well, I think anytime is a perfect time for travel and vacations, but I digress. One challenge for runners is finding the time, resources and even sometimes the motivation, to keep running on vacation.

I’ve been fortunate that already this year I have traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as well as Dubai, and had some great runs at both places. Later on this fall, I’m going to Rome and have discovered that they appear to have a great running community there.

Not to mention, sightseeing while on a run is a wonderful way to see a new place. So what’s the best way to make the most of your runs while on vacation? Here are a few things I’ve discovered that might help.

*Do your research ahead of time. You will probably start looking into other aspects of the trip before you travel, and figuring out the running portion of your vacation shouldn’t be an exception. Look into routes near your hotel or places that are a short ride away, or pick a place that you might like to see on foot.

When I was in Milan, Italy a couple of years ago I spent an afternoon at the Formula 1 race track in Monza. I found out when I arrived that the circuit actually sits in the middle of a beautiful park with lots of great places to run, including certain days where they let you actually walk or run on the track! Milan is part of our trip this fall and I’m definitely going back there to take advantage of a gorgeous place to run.

*Reach out to the local running club. Find local clubs and check out their websites and social media. Most clubs have fun runs or even some more serious runs once or twice a week if you are looking for people to run with or really want to get in a good workout. Most club website lists places to run and tips on how to run safely, which come in really handy.

It’s a great chance to meet new people and have a new experience. The views in Dubai are stunning, but it’s not the most runner-friendly place in the world with its very urban landscape. But I contacted the local club ahead of time and they directed me to a park that was a literal oasis in the desert, complete with grass, flowers and a huge pond in the middle. That and the park offered a marked, 1500-meter running path that was made up of a nice rubberized surface. I also joined a couple of club members for a run one evening and had a blast.

One thing a local club can also help you with is the local customs. For instance, Dubai has a dress code that, while it still allows people freedoms to wear what they want, stresses and expects modesty in most situations. So you can wear a singlet or a sleeveless shirt, you just can’t go shirtless or in a sports bra, for example.

Be a polite guest and find a way to blend in with the culture where you are, the locals will greatly appreciate it.

*Make your runs true “fun” runs. You’re on vacation for crying out loud! Run slower, look around more, take pictures. Don’t be afraid to stop and look around, or explore something interesting. When I was running in Puerto Vallarta I stopped and walked through a park and sports complex that was really interesting.

Even though there weren’t a lot of people there, taking a really close look at the details of the park helped me learn a lot about the area and their culture, and I think it helped me understand the people who live there even more.

I can get intense when I run and miss a lot of my surroundings, so it was a little hard to dial it down a notch, but it was well worth it. Treat your runs like any other excursion you take, as a chance for a new experience.

I think the last point is the most important…have fun! Whether you are going somewhere for some rest and relaxation, or traveling to a race, it’s all about doing something new, fun and exciting. You’ve got the rest of the year to be serious, when you go somewhere and lace the shoes up, make every run a once in a lifetime experience.

Mike Knapp is a dad, husband and runner who lives in Bartlett, IL and is the owner and head writer for the blog Let’s Run Forever. Mike has been running for 16 years and has run eight marathons, and will soon begin training for the St. Jude Marathon in December. You can find him running at the Hawk Hollow forest preserve, and online in all sorts of social media places.

     Twitter: @letsrun4ever
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