Author Karen Kwan wears Reebok Floatride shoes. Image by: Sean Pollock
I may be biased (avid runner here!), but I think running is one of the best ways to stay fit when you travel frequently. You can fulfill your wanderlust and take in the sights and sounds wherever you find yourself while also working on your cardio. Plus, running doesn’t call for packing that much gear, and you can do it whenever you can find the time in your schedule.
I’ve logged a fair bit of travel both in Canada and internationally for many years, all while maintaining a regular running schedule (and often while training for marathons) and have learned a few things along the way about how to combine my two passions.
1. Pack like a pro.
Frequent travelers know that carry-on only is the most efficient way to go. Thankfully, running gear calls for mostly of thin layers of clothing so it doesn’t take up much room. For your shoes, go with a lightweight shoe that you know you can count on to be comfortable, like the Reebok Floatride. Bonus: the shoe is stylish enough you can wear not only for running but also with your athleisure outfits for sightseeing (I love it in this fresh new colourway I have on here!). Pack your socks into each shoe to make use of that little pocket of space. However, if you’re finding no room in your bag for the shoes, wear them for your travel days or tie them to the outside of your bag.
2. Be smart about the gear you bring.
Pack gear so that you're prepared for a slight change in weather since you may be less familiar with the climate of where you’re staying (in some cities, the weather can change on a dime, like Calgary, where I was once caught in a hail storm on an otherwise warm and sunny day!). Bring a few key pieces for layering so that you can add or remove pieces as you warm up or cool down (one t-shirt, one long sleeve, a shell and a pair of tights is good for autumn weather). For early morning or evening runs, you’ll want to make sure you’re safe and highly visible, too, so a water- and wind-resistant jacket with reflective elements is an absolute must. Also, you’ll want a shoe that you can count on for comfort. The Reebok Floatride is designed to serve up optimal cushioning and responsiveness so your run will feel easy breezy.
Image by Sean Pollock
3. Give yourself some extra incentive to get out the door to run.
Sometimes even with the best intentions, it can be hard to go for your run when there’s so many things to do and see when you’re in a new city. I find it helps to incorporate your run into your itinerary. That bakery with the incredible bread you keep hearing about? Make that the ending point for your run. Instead of driving to poke around the charming town, park the car and pound that pavement instead as you check out that adorable vintage clothing shop, the waterfront and the farmers market. And, of course, for the ultimate travel and running combo: register for a destination race. After the accomplishment of crossing that finish line, reward yourself with time to explore the town--I’ve run races everywhere from San Francisco and Vancouver to Grand Cayman and the Bahamas and those memories and meals make for the best souvenirs (along with the medal, of course!).
4. Schedule your runs into your travel itinerary.
If you wait until you’re actually on your trip to plan when you will run, you risk falling into vacation mode and will likely end up not training at all. Look at all your must-sees on your agenda and figure out which days will work best to run. If you’re traveling with non-runners, I usually find it easiest to get your run done early in the morning before you all set out for the day; this way it doesn’t impact your time exploring your destination together. Even though I’m personally not a morning person, I do find early a.m. runs in a new city or town an amazing time to run as it’s so peaceful and quiet and you can snap some incredible photos of spots without people rushing into work for the day or crowds of tourists swarming a landmark.
5. Find a great route.
When you’re not that familiar with the city you’re in, it can be hard to plan a running route that is both safe and fulfilling (yes, I’ve ended up in some desolate areas of foreign cities when I just wing a route). Research online to reach out to the local running community, check apps for routes other runners have recommended, or ask your hotel if they have routes they suggest. Or find a Running Room near your accommodations; they have locations across Canada and offer two free weekly runs you can join (and you can pick up a pair of Floatrides there if you forgot to pack your sneakers). As for my recos? In Montreal, if you’re staying downtown, head to Old Montreal and the Old Port for a scenic run that’ll make you feel as though you’re in Europe (but be careful with your footing when running on the cobblestones!); in Toronto, to avoid having to stop at a lot of traffic lights (and for some sweet skyline views of downtown from Trillium Park and Humber Bay Park), take your run west from the core along the waterfront trail; in Vancouver, running along the seawall is magical. But if it’s hill training you need to get done and you’re up for a challenge, the Grouse Grind is a tough climb but a right of passage for any Canuck running or hiking fan.
Image by Sean Pollock