Monday, April 4, 2016

Essentials for the Travelling Runner

For more than five years running has been a huge part of my life. I have developed a love for the sport such that not even the deep freeze of winter or piercing humidity of summer can keep me off the road, (and living in the Toronto-area ensures I see plenty of both!). In fact, my general mental well being of the day, especially on weekends, is often directly related to whether or not I completed my morning run.
Bundled to run on the coldest day of 2016
Naturally, when the time comes for vacation, the activity doesn’t stop. Running, whether at the beach, in the big city, or on a back-country trail, is my favorite way to experience a new locale. I have written in the past about the benefits to running while traveling, so that is not the focus of this posting. Instead I’d like to offer up a list of the “essential” items any runner needs with a bit of extra focus on running while abroad. 

1) A GPS tracking device

There are a few options here. The most popular of which (especially amongst newer runners) is a smartphone. This is something that the majority of us already own, so all that is needed is an armband to secure it. Don’t worry about data roaming charges, as GPS tracking does not use data (only loading the maps does). When you are back on a Wi-Fi network you can review the details of your route.

Trusty iPhone on my arm, tracking my running route in Barcelona
The second option is a dedicated GPS smart watch. These range in price from a couple hundred to over a thousand dollars. They allow you to track your route and other stats on the fly without the need to carry your phone with you. On one hand this is useful if you are worried about your phone being lost or stolen, but on the flip side it’s always a safe practice to have your phone accessible when running in unfamiliar territory, just in case. 

2) A Heart Rate Monitor

Some of the aforementioned GPS watches include a wrist-based heart rate monitor (HRM). This is great for walks, light hikes and other moderate exercise, but for runs when your pulse is pounding at 160+ BPM, the accuracy of a chest-based unit is unmatched. Whichever route you go, a HRM is the best way to ensure you know just how hard you are pushing yourself. When running in new areas where the temperature, elevation change or terrain is harsher than you are used to, it is very important to keep tabs on your body’s limits. A basic HRM should set you back no more than $100-$150, which is more than worth the value it provides.   

3) Running App/Website

A running app or website will take the data from your run and translate it into several statistical and graphical breakdowns for you to review. Even at a basic level it will show you your total distance, route, pace, time and more. I highly recommend the app/website Strava, as it contains not only all of this info but also allows you to compare your time in certain sections of road or trail all over the world with others who have run it. Imagine seeing how your time running the perimeter of Central Park or along sections of the famous Boston Marathon compares to those from all over the world!

4) Music

This is an obvious one, but oh so important. Make sure your phone or iPod has a great playlist lined up with songs that will keep you moving and feeling good. Get creative and build a list of tunes that matches your location like British rock in London or jammin’ Latin beats for your beach run down south. The stock Apple ear buds are great for this use, but I find a head band or hat is required to keep them securely in the ears. Even with the tunes pumping, always be aware of your surroundings, especially when running near live traffic or at night.

Quick selfie during a beautiful beach run in Dominican Republic

Here are some other tips when running on vacation:

-If your accommodations do not include laundry facilities, bring a plastic bag to seal your sweaty running clothes in. You definitely do not want to stink up the rest of your luggage. You can also give them a quick rinse in the bathtub and hang dry them on your balcony if the room/weather allow it.

-Ask your hotel concierge if they know of any great running routes nearby. If your hotel is in a touristy city/area, they are likely asked that question all the time and will be happy to help. It may save you from a dangerous run in a dicey neighborhood or at the very least boring one in an commercial/industrial part of town.

-Use the local geography as part of your post-run reward. Whether that be a dip ocean as an instant cool down, or replenishing your electrolytes with water from a coconut cut fresh from the tree.

Mike @ Palms & Pints

1 comment:

  1. These are some great tips! We're not big runners, but we love hiking and camping, and in the past we've spent some time during our trips to run the trails and breathe in the fresh air. The idea of being a travel runner is so fascinating: a great way to get exercise, feel good, and see a new place all at once! Also, kudos to you for running in any and all weather.

    We currently have a Map Your Hike app but will look into Strava! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Safe travels!

    Anna @ Two Nerds Travel