There’s no better way to get more in touch with a city’s pulse than going on a run. Moving across cities or countries is a life-changing experience that is bound to disrupt one’s regular routine for weeks, and sometimes, months. This includes your fitness schedule; from figuring out favorable routes to getting habituated to running in a strange, new place, it’ll all seem like a big challenge. At the same time, nothing helps you discover a new city better than getting familiar with its nooks and crannies, and running can help you immensely in this regard. That said, going for a run someplace completely new can also be intimidating for the best of us. But at the same time it makes you feel like a local and it is one of the best ways to explore a new city.
Here are a few ways with which you can make running in a new city more enjoyable, easy, and safe:
Map it out
GPS-enabled smartphones and various run-mapping apps can help you figure out popular running routes in most cities. Mapping your course in advance will give you more confidence in tackling new routes as it takes away the fear of being lost. It also eliminates some amount of unpredictability, and ensures that you don’t run onto private property, busy highways or dead ends. Some helpful tips are to look for big, wide streets, nature parks, jogging tracks, river or ocean-side promenades, and long stretches of roads with few turns. Apart from maps, talking to longtime residents, sports shop employees and other runners in your neighborhood can give you first-hand idea of what running in the city involves.
Join A Running Group
For those used to running with a friend, a new city will mean not only discovering good routes but also finding a new buddy to conquer the miles with. Local running groups can help with both. It’ll allow you to meet others who share your interest and also provide safety in numbers. The latter is particularly important for women runners who’re scouring out routes in a new city. Finally, it’s easy to make excuses and skip runs when you’re not familiar with an area, but not many of these excuses will work when a whole bunch of people are waiting for you to show up. Even if you prefer running alone, hanging or talking with a longstanding running group for a few weeks can really open up the city and its running vibes to you.
Unplugged But Connected
To take in your surroundings, now would be the time to run without music. Since it is a new place, you might not know all the potential hazards, unplugging just makes it safer and it allows you to absorb your surroundings better. Along a new route, even the simplest sights can make for an enjoyable run. Besides, you’ll keep a sharp look out for traffic, one-way streets, dodgy neighborhoods and other city peculiarities – your instincts are your first security device in a new place. However, that doesn’t mean that you should leave your phone behind. It’s not advisable to run without your phone and some spare cash while you’re still discovering a new city; you never know when you may have strayed too far and need to call a cab, or you may simply need your phone to inform others of your whereabouts.
Take It Slow
A new environment takes some time to get used to, so give yourself that adjustment period and take your pace down a couple of notches. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t run as far or as fast as you did back home; just the fact that you’re out there getting your workout is a bonus in itself. There may be times when you’ve run too far and have to catch a bus back home, or when you’ve had to cut your run short due to circumstances beyond your control – sudden rain or a procession blocking the streets. By keeping your first few runs easy, you’ll be better able to look around and take in your new location.
While safety always comes first, it’s also important to start getting familiar with the landmarks of your new city. Every once in awhile plan your runs along the city’s more tourist-friendly public spaces, through its historical and cultural attractions and noteworthy neighborhoods. While you may have to deal with crowds here and there, these places are also more likely to come with security measures and public conveyances. Such routes may not be the fastest, but running through them are an excellent way to build up a mental map of your new city and get your familiarized with its best places.