Updated: Jul 15, 2020
I run everywhere, man!
I have been fortunate to travel extensively during my career and regularly include running shoes in my carry-on luggage. Running as an exercise regimen makes travel packing easy and costs nothing. It is enormously helpful in recovering from a long day of travel and time zone changes. But also it can be a great orientation to a new destination. Countless times I have literally hit the ground running upon arrival to a city for both reasons.
As favorite routes are concerned, the usual suspects will generally be waterfront with impressive vistas. Along the embarcadero of San Diego you are treated to low flying aircraft, ginormous naval vessels and the occasional harbor seal. On Seattle’s waterfront you are treated to several impressive mountain ranges, a sculpture park, flying salmon (at Pike Place Market) and prospects for whale sightings. While jogging along the sea wall at Stanley Park in Vancouver one can witness towering fir trees, indigenous carvings, bald eagles and an impressive Vancouver skyline. Many of these amazing views are more pronounced during sunrise, sunset or with a rainbow as a backdrop.
Park running can be equally rewarding, especially during foliage or atmospheric changes that heighten sensory impact, such as when damp conditions enhance the smell of evergreens or eucalyptus. An alternate to the sea wall around Stanley Park in Vancouver is to run wooded trails up to Prospect Park, which reeks of evergreen after a rain or with fog. The vivid colors of the trees in New York’s Central Park in the fall make for a very enjoyable run – along with several hundred other joggers at pretty much any time of day. The silence of a snow fall while running through the Tuileries Garden in Paris was one of the most peaceful running moments I can remember.
I will avoid running through a bustling city center if I can, but it can sometimes be fun in the right environment. A run along the Ramblas of Barcelona is ill-advised at any time of day, except maybe early Sunday morning when the city is either just heading home after a night out, or rising for early church services. With luck at that time your human encounters are limited to street cleaners and the sounds of screeching parrots among the regal palms are the only disturbance. A jog up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art can be noisy, but it does take you past some fabulous art and gives you the opportunity to do your best Rocky rendition.
But my favorites would be those routes close to home here in DC. Nothing is more impactful than circling the monuments along the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. And for cross training with bike and run intervals, the flat and fast East Potomac Park is a great spot that is a favorite for triathlon training (and even better when the outdoor pool opens up after two years of repairs).