Running in a Foreign Land

I’ve always been a firm believer that running outside gets you closer to your community. When I run, I see neighbours that I don’t otherwise see. I greet (and sometimes run from) dogs and bunnies, the odd fox, beaver and even a coyote and a skunk. To that end, whenever I travel I try to go for a local run to get a feel for the community and see parts of the community that I might otherwise miss.

I’ve just returned from Massachusetts where I was fortunate enough to be staying in a beach house on the Atlantic Ocean. The most earth shattering decision I had to make during the week was whether or not I should run on the beach or the road. (I chose road, in case you were wondering.) One of the best sights I saw on this trip was a real live garden gnome wonderland. It made me giggle. Giggling while you’re running is good.

I do like to know how far I’m going so I use MapMyRun to either plan a route ahead of time or log the route afterwords. If I’m in a big city (ie. New York), I’ll do a little online research to check for known/popular routes and check for safety. I’ll also ask the hotel concierge but have found that they don’t always have information about running.

Running in New York City had a huge cool factor associated with it. Of course I chose to run in Central Park. Not wanting to stick out (I’m a Canadian), I chose a running shirt that had the words “10 Miler” on it so I could try to blend in with the locals and the Imperial measures on their shirts. Yes, I know they hold 5Ks and 10Ks south of the border but hey, I didn’t want to stick out as a tourist. On the last leg of my run I saw a group of elites and my brain immediately shouted “The Kenyans! WOW”. I managed a blurry cell phone photo of the group and couldn’t tell you who any of them were but I was still impressed.

Running in Algonquin Park was good but scary. It was a short run because I was worried about bears and self conscious about singing out loud in an attempt to make lots of noise that would scare the aforementioned bears away. That’s just too much stress to make a run enjoyable.

I’m not going to run through all of my running travels; there aren’t that many and I’m not sure how exciting you would find them. I do recommend that if you’re headed somewhere, bring your shoes (leave your iPod at home) and hit the pavement. Greet the locals, see the scenery and get your workout all done at the same time.

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