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The blend of runner’s high and wanderlust is something Molly Schaaf, retreat guide and travel coordinator for New York’s Mile High Run Club, knows a thing or two about.
This August, Schaaf will be leading the fifth international Mile High Wings running trip, which will take runners through London’s royal parks, the historic city of York, and Scotland’s Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Not only does a daily run make for a healthier and more balanced vacation, it’s also a great way to experience the atmosphere of a new place.
Whether you’re with a group or running solo, there’s something about heading out for that first jog in an unfamiliar destination that feels so good. With curiosity dictating your route, excitement fueling your pace, and these five expert tips from Schaaf, you’ll get even more out of your next run on foreign soil.
Leave your headphones at home to get the full sensory experience of a place, suggests Schaaf. As you explore, make a mental note of anything that piques your interest and begin creating a rough itinerary. “I call the first run in any new city a ‘discovery run,’ and it often helps me plan my upcoming restaurant and sightseeing plans for the day,” she says.
Before leaving for your trip, do some research on local running groups, clubs or shops, and tap into the local like-minded community. “It’s a wonderful way to get more information on the local area,” explains Schaaf, “as well as hear cultural tips and recommendations while you enjoy a run together.”
“Run early in the morning through the heart of the city, and you will be treated to stunning views of the most sought-after historical and cultural destinations, all without needing to navigate through droves of tourists,” Schaaf advises. Beat the crowds and experience your destination in the best possible light.
If you’re planning a longer run, hydration is essential. Schaaf recommends keeping a couple of electrolyte tablets or capsules handy: “You can add them to your water on the go and refuel after an overnight flight and during (or after) a long run so you stay hydrated and feel your best. You can easily end up walking 5-10 miles in a day when sightseeing, and that’s after you’ve gotten your run in!”
While you’re waiting at the baggage carousel, pick up a free city map to help you plan a route, even if you don’t intend to stick to it rigidly. “Tear off the section of the city you plan to run in, indicate your route, and bring it with you so you can adjust your route as needed when you are running,” Schaaf suggests. “It’s one thing to plan out your run before you’ve gotten to know a city, and another thing entirely to let the city show you where you want to go next.”