Traveling takes a whole new meaning when you pack your running shoes.
“Are you sure you want to do that, ma’am?”
The concierge at my Bourbon Street hotel peered at me over his glasses. I didn’t know who else to ask for a running route, so I visited the rotund, uniformed man behind the lobby desk.
I smiled patronizingly at his joke. Of course someone of his heft would question exercise of any sort! But I, the runner, had 16 miles on the training plan. I arrogantly affirmed that yes, I was sure I wanted to go for a run. With a skeptical look, he pointed me out the door and directed me to follow a path along the waterfront.
When I walked outside, I realized his incredulity was not about the act of running. It was running at 3 p.m. on a steamy August day in the Big Easy. I abandoned all pride (and about seven gallons of sweat) along the Mississippi River that day.
When I first started running, I avoided training while traveling. The routes were too unfamiliar, the schedule too demanding, the gear too cumbersome to pack. While training for my first marathon, however, I realized I had no choice but to do a long run while on a business trip to New Orleans.
That run, though humbling, was also an awakening: Why hadn’t I done this before? More importantly, when could I do it again?
Too often, my tourist experiences were sanitary. I followed a schedule, went to the places the guidebook suggested, took the obligatory photos. I traveled, but I never really explored.
But when you take to a city on two feet, you can’t help but explore. Running in a new location emboldens in a way nothing else can – you may not know exactly where you are, but you always know how to put one foot in front of the other. Despite what guidebooks say, that’s all you really need.
During that New Orleans run, I learned the true meaning of “sweat session”; I also discovered Sazerac is a most refreshing post-run beverage. In China, I broke my toe and came home with a story better than any souvenir I purchased. In DC, what was supposed to be a 30-minute run took me to the Holocaust Museum, where I spent the next eight hours in stunned silence. In the Australian rainforest, I got lost and learned just how kind strangers can be. In a Flagstaff race, I met a good-looking man. While running a beautiful New Zealand mountain, that good-looking man said he wanted to marry me. We’re honeymooning next month in Morocco with —what else?—a seven-day running tour.
Because of running, I’ve stopped traveling and committed to exploring, taking every opportunity I can get to kick up new dirt with my running shoes. Would I like to take an assignment in Mexico? Si, Senor! Could I take this project in Poland? Tak prosze! Do I want to road trip with my friends and race in San Diego? You betcha.
I can’t wait to see what else is out there.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke