How many pairs of footwear do YOU travel with?
How do you maintain an exercise regimen whilst traveling? And no, we’re not talking about skipping down to the hotel gym before buffet breakfast, although we’ve done that as well. We’re talking about staying true to a regimen while independently traveling.
Back during our first trip around the world in 2007, we decided to leave the running shoes at home, reasoning that by slinging our backpack from one location to another, that we would get enough of a workout. Plus, those American size 12 running shoes take up lots of space. True story, we made the entire journey wearing just one pair of Keens sandals.
Fast forward to 2016, and we decided to hang on to the running shoes. Why? Well, it’s not only a decade later, but also about an additional 10 pounds down the road. We run a minimum of 16 miles a week, and running is the only thing standing between us and weighing a ton. Plus, running is actually pretty easy to do, really requiring nothing more specialized than a good pair of shoes. We’ll run wearing swimming trunks and a heavy cotton t-shirt if need be, but we never try to scrimp on a good pair of running shoes.
And yes, 2016 sees us packing four sets of footwear: sandals (one pair of new Keens later), running shoes, semi-dress shoes, and hiking boots. We’ve done the one pair of footwear thing, so we’re good with that. Four seems like a huge indulgence now. We stuff those vacuous size 12s with socks, loose items, etc, anything to fill up the unused space. Believe it or not, we can wear the boots, pack two sets of shoes, then tie the running shoes on to the outside of the backpack. Not bad.
Home or abroad, I’m a morning runner. I like to get the day’s run out of the way before the day fills up with other obligations. Plus, in a scorching hot climate, pre-sunrise is the coolest part of day. This usually means rising an hour before everyone else, often at the expense of precious sleep. But we’ve learned the hard way to also wait until after the first bowel movement of the day (coffee helps speed this up) before heading out the door. Bathrooms are often few and far between on the road, and nearly every runner (we admit it!) has ducked down an alley or behind a bush/car to answer a call to nature at least once.
Where to run? The question isn’t as straight forward as it sounds. We feel it defeats the purpose (and wastes time) to drive to a special running spot. We like to start right out the door in the morning. The trouble is, in winter, say, in northern Maine, the only option might be sharing a narrow icy ribbon of road shoulder between a snow bank and a pulp truck whizzing by. Not a quality run. Urban running may also require caution.
My first run in a strange area is usually for reconnaissance. I try to head straight out and straight back, at least until I know the area well. See any other runners? Follow them (though keeping a fair distance back, so as to not seem too stalker-like), as they most likely know where to go.
And the good thing is, an initial run around a new neighborhood can provide great reconnaissance for your backpack travels as well. We tend to see things on foot that we miss driving, or while packed on a bus. Hey, there’s a great-looking restaurant! There’s a nearby ATM! There’s actually a taxi stand right around the corner! We’ve even taken to carrying our smartphone (something we were always against back home) while running, if for no other reason than to have a camera handy.
We always liked to run light sans gizmos, and hey, running is our solitude time, not a time to be constrained by the electronic leash. But with treadmills few and far between, we’ve found that a GPS run tracker is handy to ensure that we’re still logging the miles.
Well, that’s our two cents on the subject… in a few weeks, we’ll be breaking new ground running in Morocco on the African continent for the first time.
See you then!