There are few things that make you feel more in touch with a city’s pulse than taking a run through it.
Running makes you feel like a local – not like a visitor – and it’s one of the best ways to explore a new city. When you’re running, you don’t have to worry about finding non-touristy restaurants, fitting in with the fashions, or getting scowled at by locals because you’re stopped in the street taking pictures.
You can just observe and take everything in. (And perhaps enjoy some quality alone time.)
That said, it can be intimidating to set out on a run in a new city – a place you don’t know very well or at all.
Here are ways to make it easy, enjoyable, and safe:
- Study the map. Before going for a run in a new place, familiarize yourself with the surrounding area. Find routes to follow on WalkJogRun or create your own. Look for big streets (for ease and safety), parks (for enjoyment), and long stretches of road (the fewer turns you make, the less likely you’ll get lost). In addition, you can always reach out to a local running store or club for a map of routes – or just ask your hotel concierge.
- Do your research. While in some cities, running may not just be a part of the culture, in others it may be flat out disrespectful and/or dangerous. Make sure you research the local customs to ensure your safety.
- Unplug … Now is the time to run without music. In a place where you may not know all the potential hazards, it’s safer and it allows you to better absorb your surroundings.
- … But don’t forget your phone. Just because your earbuds aren’t in, doesn’t mean you should leave the phone at home. Your phone will be extremely helpful on your runs in a new city – especially if you go off your planned route, get lost, or need to call a cab.
- Take some cash. You may be prepared and think you know the city like the back of your hand, but you never know when you might need to catch a cab home or buy a bottle of water.
- Get going early. Even if you’re not normally a morning runner, it’s to your advantage to go for a run in the morning when exploring a new place. Not too early – that can be unsafe – but before the morning rush of cars, bikers, tourists, and onlookers take over the streets. Around 7 a.m. is usually the sweet spot.
- Go to the touristy places. As a runner, you stand out less in most places than if you are a tourist. Use this to your advantage to explore the major attractions – or to just scope out the entrances to the ones you can’t enjoy from the outside. Then, when you come back as a pedestrian, you can look like you know what you’re doing and you’ll waste less time figuring out your way around.
- Take it down a notch. A new city is a new environment so prepare for a slower pace and an adjustment period. Don’t expect to run as far or as fast as you do at home, and don’t beat yourself up if you have to finish a run early or take a bus back to your hotel. Plus, by keeping your first few runs easy, you’ll be better able to look around and take in your new location.
- Follow your nose. Sure, it’s important to plan out a route in advance, but also make sure to give yourself creative license once you’re actually out there. Follow your gut – or anything that seems interesting or exciting. Exploring a new city should be fun! This is how you stumble on amazing places to check out later.
There’s a certain thrill in going for a run in a new city, and it adds a special element of exploration and enjoyment to any trip. So pack those running shoes and see where your feet take you!
What tips do you have for running in a new city?
Written by Varia Makagonova