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NYC Running Mama: Running While Traveling

Are you traveling soon? Maybe you are planning a last minute vacation with the family before school starts. Or you have an upcoming work trip. Being in a new-to-you city can be fun and exciting, but it can quickly become stressful if you are trying to figure out how to get your runs in. With marathon training season in full swing, missing a week or more of running may not be a viable option for you.

But just because you are in a new location for an extended period of time does not mean that you are stuck running on the treadmill or skipping training altogether.  If you take some precautions and do a bit of planning, you can set yourself up for some enjoyable and safe running while away from home.

Here are some things I try to do when I am planning to run in a new city:

  1. Reach out to running friends. Nobody will have better information about routes, races and groups to run with than someone who lives where you are going.
  2. Use social mediaI traveled to Charleston, SC in May for the weekend and knew I wanted to try to run at least a couple of the days while I was there. I asked for recommendations on routes via Twitter and received a ton of feedback. I was able to plan a long run on Saturday and ran over the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge. If you are active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, use those connections to your advantage.
  3. Find a local running club/running store. Running clubs are a great resource to tap into. You can find one via social media, friends or the internet (just try searching “running club in [city]). They can either direct you to safe routes or you can even see about joining them on a group run. A lot of running clubs have long runs on the weekends during marathon training season. Don’t be shy about asking to participate!
  4. Sign up for a race. A race environment is a safe and friendly way to log some miles – even if you are in marathon training mode. If you decide not to run at race pace, you can still get a long run in if you tack on a couple of miles for your warmup and cooldown.
  5. Do a recon. I try to always do this as I’m entering a new town. I try to pay special attention to things like:
    • Sidewalks and/or shoulders:  Are they there? Are they crowded with pedestrians?
    • Posted Speed Limits
    • Neighborhood: Busy, built up, desolate?
    • Traffic on streets
  6. Minimize the chances of getting lost. This may seem obvious, but when I’m in a new city, I familiarize myself with the streets around my hotel (or wherever I am staying), I look at street names and landmarks and I minimize the turns (I often do a loop or an out and back).
  7. Safety First. I do a few things differently when I am in an unfamiliar area:
    • Phone: I always run with my phone. I also keep a tab with google maps open and mark the hotel (just in case you lose service, you can still have a map!)
    • Money/Credit Card: I store them in a ziplock bag in my sports bra. You never know when you might need it.
    • Share your route: If you are traveling with someone, let them know which direction you plan to run and the estimated time you will be gone.
    • Run with a buddy: This may not always be possible, but if you can, try to run with someone

At the end of the day, trust your instincts. If you are headed into an area and your gut is telling you it’s too dangerous or maybe too deserted, don’t second guess yourself.  There’s no reason you should run scared when you are in a new area, so just turn around and head back. You can often hop on the hotel’s treadmill if you need to get the miles in.

Do you have any tips to share? Tweet your suggestions to @nycrunningmama and @womensrunning

NYC Running Mama

Michele Gonzalez is a mom of two young boys, a marathoner, Ironman and ultrarunner. She is a West Point grad and former Army Captain/Iraqi Veteran x3 and blogs at NYCRunningMama.com