Running and Road Trips

I just returned from a rather impromptu road trip down to New Orleans. My friend and I were both suffering from a severe case of wanderlust at breakfast one morning and we hit the road for the Big Easy the next day, stopping off in Nashville, Memphis, Mobile, and Atlanta as well.

The only thing was that we both needed to sneak in some runs while on the road. My marathon training’s about to kick in and my friend is midway through her training for a half marathon in December. We managed four runs over our week of travel, which was awesome. We had a great time AND stayed on course with our training.  If you’ve got upcoming travel plans (the holidays and all) and are reticent about packing the running shoes, here are 5 tips and observations. (The internet still loves arbitrarily numbered lists, right?)

1. Running is a great way to see a new (or old) city!

Running on vacation doesn’t have to be a trade-off between meeting your goals and exploring the city. On a run, you’re not speeding past blurred streets as in a car and you can also see a much larger area than if you were walking. We had two runs in New Orleans and did a couple different loops around the CBD, the French Quarter, and Faubourg Marigny. We ran along the Mississippi, past cemeteries, and through residential areas that most tourists wouldn’t see. We even managed to stumble across a real Banksy on Rampart St! The first run allowed us to get oriented in the city, which was great later when we set off to explore the French Quarter. The second run was right before we split town and gave us one last look at the place.

2. Timing is key!

We set off for our first run of the trip without really noting the time. We did a good four mile run surrounded by the Appalachian mountains and I headed back to the hotel with visions of cheap Belgian waffles slathered with butter-like product dancing in my head. However, by the time we made it back the free breakfast was already put away. The only thing I hate more than missing out on free stuff is being hungry. From then on, I refused to run until I’d managed a nice, leisurely (and free) breakfast. This had an added bonus, however, as it had us leaving for our runs after the morning hustle and bustle but before most other tourists were out and about.

3. Check with locals!

A lot of times we looked up local running routes listed on the interwebs but hotel/hostel/motel staff also proved useful. In the Shenandoah Valley we actually managed to find a great track that didn’t show up in any of our google searches after asking the front desk. I was looking for somewhere flat to run (IT band issues) and was afraid I’d be stuck running hills or not running at all. This is probably a no brainer for most people but I’m that (stereotypical) guy who never asks for directions, so it was quite the eye-opening experience for me. Admitting to strangers that there’s something you don’t know can be beneficial? Who knew?

4. Don’t forget a plastic bag (and a million pairs of socks)!

I don’t care what you think; those clothes stink. You’d better hide them away shamefully. And there is nothing in the world more satisfying than the feeling of clean socks. Except maybe the taste of Nashville hot chicken. Speaking of which…

5. Free Calories!

This isn’t really a tip. I just love food. I had Nashville hot chicken, memphis bbq, red beans and rice with andouille, even more bbq, fried okra, pecan pie, and boiled peanuts, not to mention the mint juleps and local brews. Despite that I didn’t gain a pound. If you’re as big of a food tourist as I am, this is a huge bonus.

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