How many pastries can you eat before feeling guilty? For me, it’s more than one but much less than the amount I normally eat on a trip. To help balance the sugar intake and re-energize for more sights, it helps to get a little exercise while traveling. Like many of you, we love to run, or maybe love to finish running. But throw in cold weather and traveling and running suddenly takes on an extra layer of challenge. Here are some tips we learned after bumping along the cobblestones.
What to Pack
Whatever you bring, you have carry or roll around to every location. Your goal should be to bring as little extra as possible. The prime suspect for extra weight is shoes.
Don’t bring a pair of running shoes that you will use once or twice on your trip. Bring running shoes that you also feel comfortable wearing in a museum or cruising around town. Luckily, Europeans are much more likely to wear tennis shoes than 10 or 15 years ago when I started traveling. So you won’t look too out of place with sporty shoes.
The second critical mistake is bringing gear that grabs onto to smell and never lets go. Being able to wash your running clothes is preferable, but not always possible. So bring wool base layers.
The great thing about wool base layers is that you can use them for running or for just wearing on a cold day. Check out our post on why base layers are your best friend for winter trips.
Finally, it’s nice to have thin gloves and a headband. These are light enough that you won’t be cursing them as you lug them around in your suitcase, but they help keep you warm as you start your run.
When to Run
Try not to run on the first or last day that you are in a city. On the first day, you won’t know your way around or even the basic landmarks. It’s a lot harder to plan and enjoy a run when you are worried about getting lost. Just one day of sight seeing will help you get a feel for what is near your accommodations.
Running on the last day of your visit to a city means there is little time to let your running gear dry out. Putting wet running gear into your luggage is not pleasant for you or anyone who may need to be within 6 ft. of you.
I know, all these restrictions! You just want to bust free and hit the train. I get the feeling, but doing these two simple things can make your run and the rest of your trip much more enjoyable.
How Far to Run
Some people run marathons some people run one mile. It doesn’t matter. As Jane said when we started running a few years ago, “I’m running farther than a person who’s siting on the couch.”
Consider taking a step down in intensity and distance while traveling. For me, this is a maintenance run. You are just keeping your body used to exercise without really pushing yourself. Jane and I normally run about three miles at home. We are not competitive runners. But on our trips we cut that down to 1-2 miles.
I want to still have the energy to visit some sights and go out for dinner that night and the next day, and a short run gives me boost of energy rather than takes it away.
Get Out There
On our last trip we ran through Dresden and it’s amazing how different the city feels when you are running. Buildings seem to come alive and neighborhoods react differently to a runner than a tourist. Get out there and make a new kind of travel memory.