You’ve just landed in a foreign land. You don’t speak the language and everyone is driving on a completely different side of the road. You think “Aw, hell with it, how am I supposed to figure out where to run?”
STOP! You can do this! You even packed your bright purple and pink Brooks shoes! No going back now.
First things first, before departing your homeland, download the Google map for the location you are going to. You can do this simply by dropping a pin in the city and loading the map. The trick is to make sure you don’t “unload” it by returning to the map for wherever you were before you got on the plane. If you’re like me and swap SIM cards, then download away, you fiend of international data, you. If you didn’t do either, quickly find a WiFi spot and load up that map on your phone!
Yay. Look at you, you’re practically finished with your run.
Have a look at the map… I normally start with “must-see” spots around town. This could be Big Ben, the Dom, the Eiffel Tower, etc. Pick the one you really want and play a bit of connect-the-dots. Start with the #1 location and see what is nearby. For example, you could visit the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Warf in one run.
Imagine you’re designing your own walking tour (or cheat and just follow a walking tour that someone else made! I won’t tell). I sometimes use Map My Run if I need to check the distance and really plan it to a T. Other times I will just leave my hotel and run in one direction for XX miles and turn around to run back. Up to you. The latter can be fun if you want to “discover” the town. If you’re really stuck, pick the largest, loveliest looking park on the map and head over. Guaranteed nice time.
If your starting position is far away, take some good ‘ole public transport! Ask the hotel front desk for tips if you aren’t sure.
I usually plan these things on the plane, it gives me something to look forward to. It’s especially nice when you’re stuck in a metal tube over the Atlantic doing work. Envisioning the galavanting you’re about to do (while on a work trip! Take that, schedule) will ease your weary mind and numb legs.
“But Jessica, I don’t speak the language! What if I get lost and need help!” My dear friend, I can assure you, someone can help you. It’s amazing what some gestures and basic English can do for a panicked explorerer. Keep the address of your hotel handy (in the native characters, if applicable). Flash it to a passerby with a worried look and they will start pointing.
So we have our route, we’ve calmed our language barrier fears, and we have our $20 Nike socks on. PRO LEVEL ENGAGE.
But wait, one more thing before you fill your life with adventure. Bring your passport. I know I know. This is a pain, but it’s important. In becoming a runner of the world, you’ll want to invest in a pair of pants that can conceal it, or a running belt. Try to keep said running belt in front of you. As I mentioned before, I use a RooSport. Stuff some money in there too in case you need a cab or a quick bite while you’re out. Don’t forget enough money for the bus/train if that’s part of the plan.
OK! Go! You’re ready! Have fun, tell me all about it when you get back.
In the coming additions to this series, I will share some of my favorite routes around the world I’ve tried so far. Each route will come with a report card so you have an idea what to look forward to (or avoid)!