Month: October 2011

6 Key Tips for Running on Vacation

I always look forward to going on vacation—who doesn’t? But an added bonus for me is exploring a new city on foot in the early morning hours.

It’s sort of a tradition for me; when I arrived at Arizona State University, the first thing I did was lace up my running shoes to take a tour of campus. A stint in Maine to visit family meant morning runs down dirt roads near fields and old farm houses.

I’m lucky enough to be in Boulder, Colorado for a good friend’s wedding and I couldn’t wait to go on a run. So, as is routine, during my first morning here in Colorado, I donned running shoes, capri running pants, tech shirt and finally, my official Boston Marathon windbreaker jacket (yay!) and set off on my adventure.

One of the best parts of being a runner is you can enjoy your sport wherever you go. We’re situated near University of Colorado’s Boulder campus (go Buffs, as my friend would say!). I decided to head in the direction of campus and explore a bit.

So, what should you keep in mind when you run on vacation? Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Plan your route. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or at a family member’s house, ask for directions of where you should go. Odds are, they can point you in the right (and safest!) direction.

2. Skip the music. We all enjoy the background music, but when you’re in an unfamiliar area, it’s key to be as alert and aware as possible when you go running.

3. Pay close attention to signs. Traffic flow is often very different in every city you visit. Keep an eye out for more “yield” signs, never jay walk and be aware of cyclists.

4. Bring ID & a few bucks. Always stash your phone and your driver’s license or other ID and some cash in your pockets just in case.

5. Run early. Stick to the early morning hours for ideal temps, a sunny start and a guarantee that you’ll get your run in. Studies show that those who exercise in the morning stick with it more than those who try for evenings when plans often change.

6. Tell someone where you’re going. Simple as that: Always loop someone in on where you’re headed, or, take them with you if possible.

Bottom line: running on vacation is one of the best ways to get familiar with a city as long as you stay safe. You’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to get around, sans the GPS.


Oh, PF Chang’s Half Marathon…

**WARNING: Runner rant up ahead.**

So I just saw the new course unveiled for the 2012 Pf Chang’s Half Marathon here in Phoenix. Personally, having run the course six times during its near-decade tenure and I have to say, I didn’t think the course could get any worse.

But, it did.

Half marathon course is marked in blue

Rather than starting the half-marathon in downtown Phoenix a few streets up from the full marathon start, they’ve now moved the course to downtown Tempe. From there, rather than criss-crossing through Phoenix and under freeways like the previous course (literal GAG; very gross), now you get to run to McClintock Drive on Rio Salado (yawn) run through Papago Park back into downtown Tempe to finish at ASU.

Okay, maybe I’m not giving the new course a good enough shake. Maybe I need to remember the desert hills the course passes by; the lack of miles-long straightaways that plagued the previous course and the logistical nightmare of getting bused to downtown on time. But, wasn’t that all part of the fun?

I ran cross country races in the Tempe area in high school and then went to Arizona State University. I’ve run many, many miles around this area of town. Endless sidewalks, sketchy subjects at times and super urban. Granted, I never liked the smoggy setting between downtown and Tempe on the previous route, but I loved starting the PF Chang’s race in the downtown Phoenix area. Let’s face it, Phoenix might not be as splashy as some other downtowns, but it’s what we have and it’s still pretty cool.

Starting and finishing in Tempe doesn’t give someone a proper glimpse of the Valley; you still only see the shady, icky stuff. AND might I note, that while this course is further east, it feels WAY too similar to the Arizona Women’s Half Marathon (don’t even get me started on that course).

Anyway, rants aside, I know that running a half-marathon is still a huge accomplishment and regardless of if you like the course or not, it’s still a feat that few will ever attempt. Kudos to those who decide to give PF Chang’s a whirl this year.

(And, if you want my opinion, skip PF Changs’ crazy huge crowds, hold off a month, save money AND get a better view by running the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon. You won’t regret it!!)