Why You Should Run Whenever You Travel—And How To Do It
For the past eight years since I finished college, I’ve been living my dream as a professional runner. I’m based in Minneapolis, and one of the best parts of the job is traveling to new cities to compete, which happens at least two to three times each month throughout the spring and summer. Last month alone, I had four trips.
While staying active on a trip is a requirement for my job, I truly believe that the most fun way to experience and explore a new city is on foot through a run. It energizes me and enhances my downtime adventures because whatever route I run takes me farther off the usual tourist path. There are hidden gems in every new place that I wouldn’t discover without running through them, and beyond that, I always get a deeper sense of what life is like for the locals. Not to mention I’m constantly scoping out cute restaurants, shops, and cafes while running—motivation to get in a great workout and then enjoy myself!
Running a “reset” ritual
Travel can be physically exhausting and mentally draining, so if I can, I’ll head out for a run shortly after arrival, which helps me fight the fatigue and stresses that go along with getting to my destination. Breaking a sweat and getting some fresh air is a way for me to hit “reset” after a long travel day, and if I’m adjusting to a new time zone, the exercise is also a great way for me to get acclimated more quickly and diminish any jet lag.
Running like a local
You can have a good run in a new city by just throwing on your shoes and wandering the area without a pre-planned route to just see where the road takes you. You can also research a route ahead of time. I think there’s a time and place for both of these tactics, depending on your goal for your run and the trip. I’ll say that when I stay at Westin Hotels & Resorts, one of the first things I do is get the low down from the Run Concierges, who are seasoned, knowledgeable runners on staff. They can lend out curated maps with local routes depending on your running distance, point guests in the direction of amazing local routes, and even lead a group run around the area. (Pro tip: If you book with Westin Hotels & Resorts, definitely take advantage of their Gear Lending program, which supplies guests with shoes, socks, and workout clothes during their stay.)
Otherwise, I’ll take a look at the map on my phone to see if there’s a body of water nearby to run along—rivers, oceans, or lake views often come with epic views! Paved paths and park trails are both good options; I mainly try to avoid running on roads with car traffic. Safety is so important on runs in new places! And on that note, it’s a great idea to bring a friend on the run and avoid running in the dark.
Making the most of your run
Here are my top three tips for remaining a “happy runner” while traveling:
- Get good sleep. Rest and recovery are important in everyday life but especially when fitting in fitness while traveling. Pack all the essentials necessary to improve your sleep while traveling: For me, this means having an eye-mask, ear plugs, and a calming tea ready to go when it’s close to bedtime on my trip. One perk I love when I stay at Westin Hotels & Resorts is their Sleep Well Lavender Balm that’s always bedside—rubbing the relaxing oils on my temples at bedtime is one of my favorite ways to unwind and release tension at the end of the day. Staying as close to possible to my nightly routine helps me sleep well and reenergize myself for the next day’s adventures. I also recommend short naps if you can fit one in!
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated on flights, so I try to drink 1-2 cups of water before going to bed and right when I wake up on trips to replenish. For your run, bring a reusable water bottle to keep your hydration levels up.
- Always make time for adventure. This one is a no-brainer! (And it’s my favorite reason why running makes a lot of sense while traveling.) We’re simply able to cover more ground when running than walking, and that helps me cross off a few “must-sees” from my travel list in a new place. I usually concede to the fact that I won’t be able to do everything that a city has to offer, so I aim to prioritize a few main attractions and then leave room in my schedule for spontaneity—or, especially if it’s a race day, some extra sleep!
Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald is a professional American middle-distance runner and lifelong Minnesotan. She is a multi-time cancer survivor and recently founded Brave Like Gabe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting rare cancer research and empowering all cancer survivors through physical activity. Her career highlights include a 4th-place finish at the 2012 US Olympic Trials 1500-meters and a USA Indoor Track & Field Championship over 3000-meters in 2014. Gabriele trains along the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis with her husband, Justin, and is aiming for an appearance at the 2020 Olympic Trials.