Bonjour from Paris!
Sorry for my absence but it’s been a crazy week. I arrived here last Tuesday morning. I’m apartment- and cat-sitting for my friend, who is a translator, while she visits her family in the US. It’s fun living in Elisabeth’s apartment and exploring her neighborhood – the 17th arrondissement, aka Batignolles. (I usually stay in the 11th.) Trying on Elisabeth’s expatriate freelance life and living in a different neighborhood is intriguing. I could get used to this, especially since I work from home and via technology. In fact, I already am used to it.
L’Arc de Triomphe – I pass by almost daily during my newly established running route
Technically, I am supposed to be here on vacation but it hadn’t felt like much of one until yesterday. I have some work to do, for which I am grateful, and that’s no big deal. The stressful bugaboo is that my oldest kitty, Samba, had not been well. My friend, who is watching her and my other 2 cats, is a veterinary technician. She and her hubby had to take Samba to the emergency vet a few days ago. Poor baby was in the hospital for 2 days with some sort of severe allergic reaction: Cone of shame. Sedation. The whole 9 yards.
For me, this amounted to worry and several nuits blanches, on top of jet lag. Cut to the happy-ish ending – Samba was discharged and is doing pretty well on an antihistamine. Yesterday was a good day. A bona-fide vacation day! Which brings me to the topic of today’s post – running while traveling.
Why I love running while traveling
Life has its ups and downs, even when you are on vacation.
Especially when you are on vacation, because at this time, the contrast between the fact that you are “supposed” to be relaxing versus life’s little realities can seem that much greater.
Running is the predictability in an unpredictable life. It’s a centering, life-affirming activity. An invitation to return to the present. A bright way to start or end the day – whether you are at home or away. Even when I travel to places like the Caribbean where it can be too hot to run outside, or for business when I have to attend a very early meeting, I still enjoy starting the day with a treadmill jaunt. It’s convenient and easy if your hotel has a gym.
Some people like to take a vacation from running and exercise while they vacation, which is certainly understandable, but it’s not for me. I’m not doing my strength work, core or yoga here, but I skipped only one scheduled run yesterday, because my gastroc was lit up. Otherwise, I have been happily running in Paris, exploring new vistas and routes. (Watch for my upcoming Paris running route post.)
The Bois de Boulogne – a great park to run in, with endless routes, trails, and even cafes, so you can sit and hydrate afterward.
Some great things about running while traveling:
- It relieves stress. Running gives you perspective. It gets you out of your head and into the moment. En route to a run, I may walk out the door worried, but I return feeling centered.
- It helps get your Circadian rhythms back in order. Getting out into the sunshine helps counter jet lag.
- It’s a great way to sightsee. I have learned more about how to navigate this neighborhood by running through it, rather than by having my nose glued to Google Maps. I noticed some cute shops I want to stop in and restaurants I want to try. I learned a shortcut to the Metro. Running through the streets of Rekyavik in the early morning allowed me to discover the best bakery in the city.
- It allows you to maintain your fitness. You cannot be in top shape all year round. But I don’t want to let all the hard work I’ve put into my running go to pot. I may not be doing my full-on long runs, speed work, and strength sessions here. But running is at least allowing me to hold onto my aerobic fitness. The first 2 runs after I arrived were utter hell because of the jet lag. I felt slow, heavy and clunky. But I got in my runs, and I’m glad I did. Maintaining fitness is about consistency.
- It helps you avoid or at least counter vacation weight gain. When you’re on vacation, especially in Paris, you want to eat all the things – try special foods you would not normally eat and maybe even overindulge a bit. Running helps keeps it in check.
Tips for running while traveling
For me, the Garmin running maps saved while traveling are fun souvenirs.
- Research running routes ahead of time. Strava and Map My Run often have running routes posted. Or ask friends, colleagues or social media buddies in other cities to recommend running routes. Since I usually stay in a different neighborhood in Paris across the city from where I’m staying now, for example, I had to find new running routes that would not require a Metro ride to get to. I’m not a fan of running through the city, dodging people and traffic, or stopping and starting, so I quickly became fond of the Bois de Boulogne.
- Don’t pack your favorite or your newest running shoes. It rarely happens but luggage can get misplaced. If you pack a pair of oldies, you won’t be too upset if they get lost or trashed on a muddy trail run. Make sure your shoes are well broken in so you are comfortable while exploring new vistas.
- Pack a wrist wallet. I love my wrist wallet and find it indispensable whether I’m running at home or away from home. It’s big enough to hold your keys but snug enough to not affect your stride. While running in Paris, my wrist wallet was able to stash Elisabeth’s large skeleton key, plus with a few extra Euros to stop in the boulangerie to buy my breakfast baguette on the way home. (Not sure the proprietress appreciated a sweaty runner in her bakery!)
- Check the weather in advance and pack enough running clothing to be prepared for every temperature you may encounter. And be prepared to wash your gear, either by hand or in a laundromat. When I first arrived, it was chilly in Paris, but now most days are in the 70s and 80s, so I had to be ready for a range of temperatures from 40 degrees to 80 degrees. For my 16-day stay, I packed 2 pairs of running shorts, 3 pairs of socks, 1 singlet with a built-in running bra, 1 regular singlet, 2 running bras, 1 half-zip jacket, 1 short-sleeve tech shirt and a few headbands. Luckily, Elisabeth has a washing machine!
- To Garmin or not to Garmin? That is the question. I like to bring my Garmin and heart rate monitor, because when you upload your runs, it saves the map – a fun souvenir. But you may want to give yourself a break from the data and leave the watch at home. It would be one less thing to pack and to worry about, for sure.
- Run a local race. See if any races are happening while you are in town. Racing in anther city is always a fun experience and a great way to get in a speed work session during vacation or a business trip.