The Joys of Running on Vacation
See More, Feel Better, Improve Your Travels
This is not about fitness. Not really… Running on vacation is one of the things which I most enjoy when we travel. To many of you, this will seem counterintuitive. A lot of people see running as a chore. A holiday is a time to escape chores! Let me explain the pleasures of running on vacation and why I recommend that you consider it.
I began running about 10 years ago. Honestly, it took me about a year before I actually enjoyed it. My first experiences running on vacation came along the Florida panhandle. I did not want to lose fitness while on break. Reluctantly, I laced up my shoes and headed out into the morning. Immediately, I was hooked.
It was early morning in Destin. The streets were almost abandoned. All of my senses were engaged. The sunrise glimmered off the water. The smell of the salt in the air mingling with flower blossoms created an enticing perfume. The calls of gulls and sandpipers over the crashing of the waves onto the beach set a tempo. The setting was hypnotic. It was pure bliss.
By running on vacation, I have had experiences that I otherwise would have missed. I have witnessed amazing sunrises on the beaches of Barcelona, breaking over the Colosseum in Rome, and arising from the Caribbean aboard a cruise ship. Streets with amazing sites have been almost deserted. London, Florence, and Santa Fe have been open for me to roam. I have explored parks and trails almost everywhere that we have been: the Cotswold Way in England, the Santa Fe Trail in Colorado Springs, Hyde Park in London.
Running has allowed me to become a local tourist, too. At home in Louisville, I seek out new trails, neighborhoods, and different parks here at home. At E.P. Tom Sawyer Park, I have ran the NCAA Cross Country Championship coarse and followed in the footsteps that Olympian Wesley Korir ran while training for his Boston Marathon victory. Many of our parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape architecture who also designed Central Park in New York City. I have seen more of the local beauty than most other natives.
Some runners participate in races on their vacations. I have done this a few times. The (now defunct) Rock and Roll Marathon Denver wound through the cities parks and neighborhoods with amazing views of the Rockies. The Space Coast Marathon followed the intracoastal waterway of scenic Cocoa and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K allowed me to explore Disney’s stunning, private island. In our local Kentucky Derby Marathon, I ran around the track inside the iconic Churchill Downs.
You might suggest that you can do all of this walking. Of coarse you can. Running allows you to cover almost twice the distance in same time, though. When pressed for time, as many of us are on vacation, you can see a lot more.
Cycling is another way to tour. I prefer running. It is easier to stop when you want. Traffic in the streets of cities like London and Rome is treacherous for cyclist. Sometimes cycling is just not an option, such at the Grand Canyon or following the River Leith in Edinburgh. I also prefer being able to move a little slower and to have more time to focus on the sites. Shoes are easier to pack than a bike, too.
Some of you who are already runners know exactly of what I speak. For you other runners, give it try. You will be hooked, too. If you are not yet a runner, but are in good health, then this is just another reason to take up running. Once you can run for 30 – 45 minutes comfortably, you will notice more joy and less pain. A great way to start is by following a Couch to 5K program like this.
In addition to seeing more sites, you will feel better. Any runner will tell you that on days they run, their moods are better, they have more energy, and they sleep better. What better combination could you ask for on vacation?
As long as I am able, I will continue to run on vacation. The joys of exploring deserted streets and trails in the morning is addictive. Running makes you more alert, more fit, and sleep better. Give it a try! Your heart, lungs, mind, and spirit will thank you.