My boyfriend moved to Tampa this past summer. I helped him move down, but wasn’t running much at the time. I am down here to visit for Thanksgiving and found myself in desperate need of places to train and at a total loss at where to start. Finding venues to run while on vacation or out of town can be tricky. I have a few tips to share with you that might help you in your search, as they have helped me in mine.
1. Head out the door and explore!
If only in a strange place for just a night, you might get lucky and be able to run straight from your hotel or friend’s house. In those situations, you probably won’t mind one run on a sidewalk or bike path.
I have had many good runs this way and have explored cool neighborhoods. I like to keep my eyes open as I go for good places to eat or shop or walk later. It is also handy for the times when you are staying briefly and have no time to sightsee. I think my favorite run I have ever been on was when I went to Paris for a race. I was there for about 2 full days, and one of those was race day. I couldn’t be on my feet for long hours of sightseeing, so I made it a point to hit the big ones during my runs. I saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arc Dr Triomphe, Jardin De Tuileries, and more. I never would have had the time to walk to all of those places in the short time I had post race, so getting to see them was really special, even if it was simply as I ran past.
2. Ask the front desk or the concierge.
Some hotels will already have routes mapped out for you, but at the very least they can point you to safe roads or bike paths or greenways. Usually they will give you a map which for the directionally challenged like me comes in very handy. Always take the map.
3. Look for green spots on a map.
Sounds strange, but I discovered one of my all time favorite parks this way. I was on a road trip with a friend and we needed a long run stop. We were approaching Birmingham, Alabama, and he handed me the GPS and said find some green. I saw a great big splotch that turned out to be Oak Mountain State Park. One 17 mile loop on the trail later and I was sold. Now I stop there any chance I get.
4. Bug the heck out of people you know.
If you know a runner who lives or has lived in the foreign spot to which you are visiting, reach out and ask about spots to run. Most runners are so friendly and love to show off their favorite running haunts. Even better, you might get a running partner out of it!
This is how I found the place to run here in Tampa. A friend recommended a great run, perfect for the tempo I had, as well as trails for my easy run. And it was shaded. Huge win here in Florida.
5. Ask at the local running store.
The runners who work at the nearby running store are a great resource for finding routes and parks to run. Call them and get the inside scoop!
6. Google it.
This doesn’t always work, but sometimes simply Google-ing “places to run in x” will yield some routes or parks. Sites like mapmyrun.com and usatf.org have routes saved that you can browse and try out. I was able to find a nice list compiled by the local college of running venues that they use.
7. SAFETY FIRST!!!!!!
Any time you go running, remember to be safe! At the risk of sounding like my father and my boyfriend, this is my runners PSA.
Take a phone with you and add the hotel’s number, in case you get lost or run into trouble. If in a big city where cabs are readily available, take some cash too. You really never know what might happen. Before I ran New York Marathon, I got a little turned around in Central Park. I found my way back but I ran farther than I wanted and walked a ways back to save my legs. I was supposed to meet my parents who got worried that I was late. Had I taken a phone, I could have called to reassure them and used it to find my way back out!!
Also, always take ID. This might seem very annoying, but it really is important especially if you are running in a strange place alone. My mom made me get a RoadID bracelet and while I rolled my eyes entirely too much about it, I have come to realize it is a good thing. If, God forbid, something happened while you were gone, having ID on your could be vital.
So there you have it. Running is the best way to explore a new place, so get your shoes on and get out there!!