I’m very happy to have Bibi from Veggie Runners on the site today. Bibi is the daughter half of the mother-daughter site, which features loads of great articles on running, nutrition and recipes and more. Today she’s sharing her tips for getting a good run in while travelling. Thanks Bibi!
Exercise is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing. But try telling that to the ever-growing ‘to-do’ list that most of us have. We know that spending some time giving back to ourselves will enable us to have more left in the tank to give to our friends and family, yet the selfishness implicit in it is difficult, particularly for women. What exercise gives you the most bang for your buck? I advocate running, and here I give some advice of fitting it in to your life when you’re out on the road.
One of the reasons I love running is that you can do it more or less anywhere. As I travel a lot with my job, it’s important that I don’t need to lug around lots of equipment, or find a particular place to do it. As long as I’ve got my basic running gear with me (I often wear my running shoes to travel in to save luggage space), I can hit the streets and get a great workout. As a recent university graduate in her first proper job, it’s also very important that once you’ve got the running shoes and bra, it’s free to do. Even better, it’s a good way to get to know a place in a way you never would from taxis between hotels and meetings (which would be all I’d see otherwise!)
For me the one difficulty is that I am short sighted and utterly, totally lacking in a sense of direction, so heading out in a strange place is rife with potential for getting horribly lost. I have two main coping strategies for this:
Find a body of water
If you have access to a map of the area, find a body of water and stick to it. If it’s a lake, run round it, or if it’s a river or canal, run alongside it until you’re 55% done, then turn back (that extra 10% energy will come to you on the way! It’s easier to find the energy when you’re heading back). The best bit about bodies of water is that by nature they are very flat. This will be good for speed training. Impress the natives by running super-fast during your intervals – they won’t know if you don’t do that at home too!
Find a circuit with a hill
I was working in Paris this week and I employed this strategy. I found a little circuit – just a few blocks, with a horribly steep hill in it. I went round and round the circuit, getting my hill training in. It was a gorgeous day, and there was a fantastic fountain to look forward to at the end of the route each time. I intended to do 5 revolutions but ended up doing 8 because it was just so beautiful.
Other things to consider:
It can be a nightmare to eat properly while you’re travelling. You can’t always choose where, when or what you eat and it takes no time at all to lose control over your intake (think cookies, pizza, fries – and that’s on a good day). One way of countering this slippage is to take snacks with you. Dried dates and raisins might raise eyebrows at airport security but they’re great for vitamin and energy boosts and for helping replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Plus they taste marvellous. Nuts are excellent snack food too – high calorie, for sure, but providing protein, which is often lacking in the fast food suppers you sometimes have to settle for. Slot some granola bars in your case too – you never know when you might need a healthy lift and they should help you avoid the cookie plate at coffee break.
If you’re by yourself, always make sure that someone knows that you went out. I often just stop by the hotel reception desk and tell them I’m heading out for a run. They’re also a great resource for tips on the area – there might be a park or river you don’t know about. Sometimes I think they just think I’m showing off, but at least someone knows that I’m out and will expect me back sooner or later.
You can read my mum Janey’s experience of running in Buenos Aires here, a cautionary tale that shows some overseas running experiences are better than others. I guess we always learn lessons though. We know for sure that not running is not an option so all tips on running or other exercise away from home will be gratefully received. How do you cope with running in a strange place? What are the best places for impromptu runs? How about the worst?
Bibi Rodgers is the daughter half of Veggie Runners, a globetrotting mother and daughter combo, who love running, cooking and chatting. 4 years in BC have brought a Canadian sensibility to our (currently) British existences. You can find delicious vegetarian recipes, training tips, reviews, giveaways and – you’ve guessed it – all manner of running chat here.