As someone who has been bitten by the travel bug, I’m an avid traveler and often travel for both fun and for races. I’m running a half marathon in all 50 states and am up to 38 states completed. In addition to traveling for races, I try to squeeze in at least one non-racing vacation a year, two if I can manage it. Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I don’t run, though. Many years ago when I started traveling often, I had to figure out how to run safely in strange places.
In February, I will be traveling to Utah and among other places Las Vegas. When most people think of Las Vegas, they think of gambling, partying at clubs, going to shows, eating out, and basically indulging themselves. Most people don’t equate Las Vegas with running. In fact, other than gambling, this can be said of many vacation spots. So what do you do when you’re on vacation and need to go for a run? How do you stay safe when running in a place you’re not familiar with?
1. Map out your Run
There are several options for mapping out a running route. Map My Run is a popular site for runners where you can of course map your route but also track your activity and share with friends. You can also ask the concierge at your hotel for suggested running routes. Often the concierge is a better option than asking front desk personnel, at least in my experience. Another option is Walk Jog Run which allows you to find or create a route based on where you are. Unlike Map My Run, Walk Jog Run does not require you to sign in, but Walk Jog Run is perhaps not quite as comprehensive as Map My Run. No matter what option you choose, let someone know where you will be running and what time you expect to be back.
2. Carry a Phone
Although this may seem obvious to runners that always have their cell phones with them, not everyone runs with their phones. While that may be fine if you’re just running a few miles from your neighborhood, if you’re running in a strange area it’s a whole different story. You never know what might happen when you’re out on a run- you might get lost, injured, or have some other kind of accident. Without a cell phone, you can’t immediately call for help. I don’t know about you, but if I need help, I don’t want to first have to find someone that will let me borrow their phone.
3. Stay on Guard
Your instinct is extremely valuable and should never be ignored. If you suddenly find yourself in an area where it seems unsafe or you just have a bad feeling, immediately turn around and go back to where you were. Don’t worry about following your route or anything else. Your safety should always come first over anything else. If things go really badly, call for help immediately.
4. Eating and Drinking
This isn’t necessarily a safety tip, more of a general health running tip, but an important one nonetheless when traveling. Most of us are guilty of over-indulging in food and drinks when we travel. Las Vegas is well known for its endless buffets at restaurants and drinks at bars and casinos. Just be sensible and try to plan ahead. Check out these great deals to help you plan your next Vegas trip with this link. You wouldn’t want to go for a run the morning after partying late at night clubs, so make sure you plan out the days you’ll be running so you know to plan your pre-running activities appropriately. If you don’t make running a priority, it simply won’t happen.
5. Watch Where you Run
You always want to run facing traffic, no matter where you are in the world, if there are no sidewalks you can safely run on and you are running on the roads. If you’re running with your back to traffic and a car comes up behind you and you can’t see it, you can’t be pro-active and get out of their way if necessarily. Also, never assume someone in a car sees you. I always assume they don’t see me to err on the side of caution, especially if I’m crossing a road or anywhere near an oncoming vehicle. If the sidewalk is crowded or is full of cracks and ruts, either run in the grass or the road. Just use your best judgement.
So really, there’s no reason why runners can’t still run while on vacation and stay safe. Now, if you don’t have an upcoming race and you simply don’t want to run during your vacation, that’s a whole other story!