Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tourism On Two (Running) Feet

The best thing about being a runner when you travel is that you get to go and see a city on your two feet as a non-tourist. In most places, a person jogging is fairly inconspicuous (although I've definitely been places where that was not the case, and in fact once when out on a jog in Palau, everyone who passed me kindly stopped and offered me a ride!). But most of the time if you head out on an early morning run, you see the city as it's waking up, kind of like seeing your spouse across the breakfast table. Nothing spiffed up or fancified, just the real sense of the place.

You can also reconnoiter any areas you might want to revisit later, or discover hidden gems. Once in Rome, I found this great little DaVinci museum tucked away in a courtyard entrance, and it had wonderful hands-on models of many of his inventions that my kids loved. On another trip, a Yorkshire morning yielded a rainbow that arched over the dales, flocks of sheep guided by anxious border collies and an older gentleman dressed head to foot in tweed.

This morning's jaunt from downtown San Jose originally took  me along a riverfront path, but construction detours forced me to head out into the city instead. I ran past the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, and discovered the Museum of Technology before heading down to the UCSJ campus. Some times, its a little weird to be a woman out on my own running in a strange town, and this is where I'm grateful for some good situational awareness and a little martial arts training as well. Occasionally on traveling runs, I've ventured into areas of town that were better left unexplored, and once I even had a police officer kindly escort me to a better street in New Orleans. But in general, I've never felt particularly threatened when running, perhaps because I'm obviously carrying nothing of value, or maybe because I'm a moving target who looks like she can take care of herself. For me, it's worth it to be out there seeing the real side of any city, not just the parts that appear on a tourist map.

If you like to travel and want to run, I've found that the concierge or information desk at many hotels have running maps already printed up, or can give you good information on where to head for a pleasant route. Then all you need is to remember to stick your watch and shoes in your suitcase and you're off for an adventure. Personally, I also think it helps to enhance your navigation skills when you have to keep track of foreign landmarks and compass directions in an unfamiliar place, so it's a good workout for your brain as well as for your feet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh I love your vacation running post too! Isn't running on vacation the best? Non-runners tend to think you're nuts for not taking a break, but it's truly my favorite part of traveling. Running in Rome! *sigh...