Working for a global company, I’m often on the road for work. In a typical year, I travel 100,000 – 150,000 miles a year by plane all over the world which makes it tough to stick to a training schedule. I always recommend traveling with your running gear because you never know when you may be able to squeeze in an unplanned run. Since I spend so much time on airplanes and in airports away from my home trails in unfamiliar cities and towns, I’ve come up with these 10 tips which help me run when I’m on the road.
- Pack light and wash often– I always bring running gear with me on my travels no matter how short or long the trip is. On longer trips I used to run out of space trying to pack all my running gear until I discovered the miracle that is wool! Since wool is naturally anti-microbial (it won’t stink even if you sweat in it), you can get away with less articles of clothing without worrying about funking up the hotel elevator! I typically travel with a single pair of running shorts, 2 shirts, and one pair of SmartWool socks to get me through a 1-5 day trip. If you don’t have wool running clothes, plan on bringing some camp laundry soap and washing your clothes in the sink or tub. I use the Sea to Summit Trek & Travel Laundry Wash since it comes in a 3.0oz size that is TSA compliant.
Pro Tip 1 – To make your washed clothes dry faster, lay them out on a bath towel, roll it up tight, and squeeze or stand on it to get out extra moisture.
Pro Tip 2 – If your clothes still aren’t drying fast enough, use the hair dryer. Most hotel rooms have one.
- Find a route – There are a number of ways to find places to run during your travels including Strava Segments, Strava Local if you are in a larger city, or try asking the hotel concierge. They usually have routes mapped out and printed on a convenient easy-to-carry card with various distance options.
- Run early – Ask anyone that knows me, and they will tell you how much I despise getting up early to run. Unfortunately, when I travel, early is often the only time I can squeeze in a run! I’ve found that even if my schedule appears to have openings later in the day that would potentially allow for a run, I’m always better off just getting up and going early. It helps pass the time on international trips when jet lag has me up early anyways, gives me a boost to start the day, and when a meeting or meal runs long later in the day (as they always seem to do), I don’t have to worry about missing my run.
- Combine sightseeing and running – On most of my trips, I don’t usually plan extra time to sight-see so combining my runs with sight-seeing works out great. One of my all time favorite runs was running along the Sydney Harbor past the Opera House, The Rocks, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the ANZAC War Memorial – all on a single 6 mile run! It may not be as good as spending the day at the Smithsonian, but it helps me see a lot more of the local sights than I would have otherwise. Boston is another great city to run and sight-see since there are so many historical sites condensed in to a relatively small area. The Freedom Trail has 16 different historic sites in just a 2.5 mile run.
- Find a local running group – Many running stores have mid-week social runs in the evenings and in my experience they are always welcoming to visitors. Sometimes you even find an awesome store like Shoes & Brews in Longmont, CO that combines running and beer in one location and even has an 800m road challenge where you pay the equivalent of your 800m time for your first beer! You may also belong to a gym like Lifetime Fitness which does Tuesday Night group runs and Thursday Morning Dawn Patrol nationwide, so make sure you check to see if your gym has any locations nearby with any group activities you can join.
- Hit the airport gym – Many airports are starting to add gym facilities, including the recently opened ROAM Fitness at Baltimore Washington International (BWI). Other airports like Minneapolis (MSP) have treadmills you can walk on while you charge your mobile devices. At Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) you can access the attached Westin for a $15 fee that gets you in to the pool, locker room, showers, and gym. If you want some exercise besides running, Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW), San Francisco International (SFO), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Chicago Midway (MID), and Burlington Vermont (BTV) have a yoga room where you can get your chaturanga on and unwind before (or after) your flight.
- Get out and explore – Sometimes my favorite runs are the ones I don’t think about and just go out and run and explore. I love doing this in Tokyo in particular because of the wide sidewalks and juxtaposition of modern and ancient buildings. I’ll usually pull up Google Maps, scope out a rough destination (The Imperial Palace and Yoyogi Park are two personal favorites), start running in that general direction, and make it up as I go! If you are worried about getting lost, just make sure you have your smartphone with you and Google Maps can help you navigate back to your hotel. Depending on where you are in the world, you can also use Uber/Lyft, a taxi, or the train/subway to get back to your hotel.
Pro Tip – If you have an expensive or limited data plan, Google Maps has an offline mode that lets you download and save maps to your smartphone that you can use without an internet connection. Just make sure you do this using the hotel wifi before you head out for your run!
- Treadmill – Almost every hotel around the world has a gym with treadmills. If the hotel doesn’t have a gym itself, they’ve almost always partnered with a gym nearby or made an agreement with another hotel (often times multiple hotels in a clustered area are owned by the same company) so be sure to ask when you check-in. Some hotels may charge you to use the gym (all the more reason to run outside) but many have moved to the mandatory “Resort Fee” which includes the gym now. This is particularly popular in resort destinations and places like Las Vegas. Some hotel chains, like Westin, even have special rooms with treadmills in them they call Westin Workout
- Ask a co-worker – If you happen to be traveling with a co-worker, see if they run, or check with any of your local co-workers if you happen to be visiting an area with an office. Knowing that you’ve made plans to meet someone at 7:00am to run makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning and lace up. Plus, if they are local, you don’t even have to find a place to run since they will likely have some ideas already.
- Sign up for a race – Sometimes you get lucky on your travels and they happen to coincide with a race. Nothing like a financial commitment to get you to the starting line. I’ve participated in numerous races on my travels and had a blast. You may never have the opportunity again to enter a race where you are visiting, so you might as well sign up if you can!
Have you tried any of these tips yourself? Anything I missed? Comment below and let me know!