I can understand why the idea of exercise on vacation is not appealing to everyone--if you think of exercise as a chore, why would you do it when you're supposed to be relaxing. (To be clear, no judgment there--I like exercise but I DO often think of it as a chore, and taking time off is appealing to me, too.) But I realized on our last family trip that running on the road is actually one of my favorite times to run--getting outside of my normal routes and enjoying the scenery of wherever I'm traveling makes the run way more fun than it would be at home, and fitting in some good sweat sessions throughout a trip makes me feel healthier and more energetic than I would if I skipped it. So I decided to put a short post together about why I love to run when I travel, in case it's just the inspiration you needed to throw your running shoes in your suitcase on your next trip.
I. The Scenery
One of my favorite runs to date happened when I was in Washington, D.C. last fall for a work conference. I decided to get out of the hotel and go for a run around the monuments one rainy evening, and it was the best run. When you're enjoying sights, scenes, and people-watching that you don't get at home, you're not focusing on your breath or your worn out legs like you might if you're running the same old tired route. Plus, what's better than getting an awesome workout and being a tourist at the same time??
II. New Challenges
If you know Minneapolis at all, you know that most of the running around here is pancake flat. I love that, actually. But running on flat ground is different than running on hills, and the latter will challenge and improve your running a lot more. Plus, I'm training for the Ragnar Great River right now, and I've heard that race is nothin' but hills. I'm terrified, truth be told. But I took advantage of the hills in Hill City, South Dakota (509 feet of elevation gain in a 4-mile run that was basically 2 miles up hill and two miles down hill) and the elevation in Denver to stretch myself and get ready for the upcoming race. And I discovered some pretty forests and trails while doing it. Win win win.
III. Blowing Off Steam
I love to travel, but travel often comes along with some stress and frustration, too. If I'm traveling for work, that probably means trying to catch up on emails/to-dos in the evening after a long day of meetings. If I'm traveling with my family, that means we're spending a LOT of time together navigating the best ways to get places and choose things to do--and I say this with all the love in the world, but that can be a lot. Getting away for a 45-minute run can make all the difference in letting off that stressed energy.
So that's my endorsement. Anyone have recommendations for great vacation runs they've taken? Horror stories about running into a moose, bear, or a buffalo when you were running on a vacation and not thinking about it? (The wildlife hazard did occur to me when I was deep in the woods running in the Black Hills--maybe good to think that through ahead of time. Maybe.)