You may have seen #RunLikeAGirl on the internet recently. It comes from this clever ad campaign from Always (https://youtu.be/XjJQBjWYDTs), reclaiming the phrase “like a girl” and turning it from a negative to a positive. Runners across the world have picked it up and (heh) run with it.
Well, I’ve got a new one for you. #RunLikeATourist. In keeping with the activity, I’ll start this article slowly, go around the houses a bit but get there in the end. In his brilliant book Why We Run, Bernd Heinrich nails the simplicity of running.
In a world where running shoes can cost upwards of £120 this might seem a bit idealistic. And when you really get into running there is a frankly baffling cornucopia of accessories you never knew you needed. But for all that, what other sport can you get a good workout from on your own, without any specialist kit (other than shoes) pretty much anywhere?
I recently saw a photo on Instagram of a friend who had been for a run while in Brazil. A comment beneath said something along the lines of, “Running?! Aren’t you on holiday?” "You're missing the point!" I replied fanatically. I didn’t really, but I wanted to. A holiday isn’t to get away from running (although obviously it can be if you’re knackered, otherwise no). It’s to get away from work. And quite possibly do even more running than usual.
Ultrarunner Cat Simpson (www.escaperunning.com) is a huge fan of “runcations” - running a race while on vacation. Or more usually, planning a holiday around a foreign race. What a great way to see a new city. But if we go back to Heinrich’s point, the least costly way is simply to get out there and run.
My first recollection of running while on holiday was in Australia and I was staying with a friend who lived by Manly beach. He didn’t have as much holiday as me so when he went to work in the morning, I ran the length of the beach and back. I didn’t even wear shoes. (In fact I think I only wore shorts and a cap. Sorry about that, Australians.) I finished with a dip in the ocean which was quite the most exquisite, revitalising cold bath I've ever had. When I got home, I won man of the match first game back at football because I was literally the fittest on the pitch by a mile.
I remember going away for a long weekend in Helsinki and being so keen to keep up my 10k training that I went for a run in the snow. Naturally, I got lost and ended up running about 10 miles but it was quite the experience, padding along tracks in the pine forest while the flakes fell amidst that ethereal hush you get when there's snow all around.
Every time I visit my friend in San Francisco I try to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge on my run. It doesn’t always happen but it’s such a beautiful city it doesn’t matter. Some of the hills are ridiculously steep which makes for a great workout.
In New York, Central Park is fun to explore, while the grid system of roads provides the perfect excuse for intervals - you’d better stop at the red lights or you might get knocked over. Rome has some of the most iconic sights in the world, and the cobbled streets will help you to strengthen your ankles.
The most fun ones though are the trails. No concerns about traffic, trees aplenty and you can always dive into the bushes if you get caught short. This has happened to me twice. Once near Lake Tahoe where I was the one doing my business in the woods and only later saw a bear (who wasn’t), and once on the Dipsea Trail after an ill-advised In ’n’ Out Burger before the run. The only problem with the trails is that they’re often so wonderful you want to stay out for ages and eventually your other half might miss you. Maybe.
So next time you’re lucky enough to go away, pack your trainers, plot a route (or don’t bother), see the sights (or get lost and miss them) and run like a tourist.