This trip we’ve been on, to Reykjavik, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, is one we’ve wanted to take for years. It’s a bit sad to see it coming to an end and know that we’ll both be back at our desks tomorrow rather than exploring cobblestone streets and palaces. But, that’s life and what we have to do to go on more trips in the future. Right?
Our trip wasn’t necessarily an adventure vacation - we spent most of our time in cities, not on mountains - but it went without saying that we were going to run as many times as we could because that’s one of our favorite ways to explore new places.
We ran five times: three mornings in Amsterdam and twice in Copenhagen, and covered 26 miles. Of course, we covered countless more miles walking around. On several occasions, my Fitbit reached more than 35,000 steps at the end of the day.
We enjoyed all of our runs and felt that they helped us get to know the cities better. Let’s face it though, adding running gear to your suitcase does require space and weight, so it’s important to make it worth it.
In my opinion, it really comes down to one thing: Do the prep work.
Much like planning for any long run or training, taking time to prepare and plan will increase your enjoyment of running on vacation.
Seek out recommendations for where to run from the running community. I received great tips from friends who have run in the cities before, and also found a few blog posts through Google searches. This helped me narrow down where we should go - and all of our runs took us to, or through, parks. Local running groups are great sources of information and even company if you are looking to join in on a group run or don’t want to run alone. Some cities also have running tours where you can, well, get a tour of the city from a local while you go for a run. (We did this in Montreal years ago and it was fantastic.)
You’ll need to the right gear, but not too much. Think about what you’ll need and check the weather forecast, but be prepared for anything if you’re going to a city or country known for erratic weather patterns. If you can, cut down on the impact on your suitcase by packing fewer outfits than the number of runs you plan to do, and plan to do some wash while you’re away. We stayed at an AirBnB in Amsterdam which we chose in part because it had a washer and dryer, so we were able to do laundry part way through our trip. While I personally think the AirBnB fees are getting a bit out of control, this one wasn’t bad and the ability to do laundry clinched it for us. I strongly recommend taking something to carry water (we saw very few drinking fountains on our trip) and even a lightweight hydration pack without the bladder if you want to do some exploring (or brunching) after your run but before you head back to the hotel. Also good for carrying bulky keys and a map, in case you don’t have cell phone service. (But take that phone for photos!)
Back to parks for a moment. I highly recommend incorporating parks into your route, especially if you’re visiting a city. They tend to offer safe running routes that don’t require frequent stops for traffic lights, not to mention green space helps us relax.
While you’re out on the run, be open to turning down a street that looks interesting and don’t forget to look around you. While you might be training for a race or want to get in a specific distance, you’re in a new place. Look around you and take it all in. Don’t let it all go by in a blur.
Finally, remember to stretch when you’re done. It's an easy thing to forget when you're ready coffee and a delicious brunch, but you'll be happy you took the time to do it in the long run.
It's really fairly simple. Make the commitment. Plan ahead. Explore. Have fun.
Do you run when you travel? Why or why not?