I’ve been abroad for the past four weeks + traveling on a weekly basis for the past two months. To say my life has been all over the place would be…well, a very literal statement. There was still snow on the ground in Colorado when I signed up for the Silverton Ultra 100K race. I choose it for a few reasons — I love those mountains, it’s an aggressive mountain race + I love everything the Dirty 30 race organization stands for [huh? I explain it more in my Trail Sisters’ post about How to Choose A Race]. It’s going to be a great race + as always my primary goal is to finish…with a smile.
That said, I should probably still train for this race. Maybe? I mean, a bit of training is going to be the only way I’m going to get across that finish line with a smile plastered on my exhausted face. But training is easy right? Just put some numbers on a spreadsheet then run some miles until you are all strong + skilled + fast + stuff. Probably? Maybe?
Help support my crazy race + help support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado with a donation today!
I put those numbers onto a piece of paper about four weeks ago + was a bit shocked to see just how close race day [August 11th!] was. Um. On that day I had exactly 14 weeks to train for a 100km race. Okay…that’s feasible. I did some math, wiggled around some numbers + made a list of beautiful places to run.
That list of ‘to run’ places was easy to come up with for the weeks when I’ll be back home in Colorado. I have a massive list of places I’d love to visit on foot, so why not run them!? But it wasn’t quite so easy to think up places to run while I was traveling. Bouncing from one unknown city to another made it a bit challenging to know what sort of trail running [or pavement pounding!] I’d be able to squeeze into my time as a tourist.
I will not lie — the first week or so of ‘training’ while traveling was a bit lackluster. When I didn’t know what I’d find when I headed outside donned in running attire it was really hard to get myself outside. I’d put off running or head out to ‘explore the city’ then pretend that time on my feet counted as training [it kind of down, btw!]. Eventually I found a trend that seemed to cross borders as I traveled through Europe.
When you’re in a city + ready to run there are a few places you’re sure to find more of your kind. Not that you have to run places where others are doing the same, but in a new-to-me or I-do-not-speak-the-local-language city I highly prefer running in places where it’s seen as a ‘normal’ thing to do. It makes me more comfortable, in turn making my runs easier + longer.
Tips for Training While Traveling
If there is a river in the city, go to it! There is a very high chance there will be a paved or gravel path near it. If you actually want to get some mileage in I’d suggest going early in the morning. The river walkways become popular as the shops nearby start to open, making any run a bit of an obstacle course.
The paved riverwalk along the River Thames in London was full of runners, rain or shine, all day long. Personally, it looked miserable in the middle of the day as I watched them dodge families, but more power to them. When I was out walking that walkway before 9am it was wide open + owned by the early bird runners! I found the same to be true for the river that wound its way through Bordeaux, France. It was void of non-running humans before 9am, making it perfect for a morning run…even in the pouring rain!
Look at Google Maps. If you see a green blurb with the word ‘park’ in the name it’s probably a good place to at least run through. In bigger cities I’ve taken to scoping out these places as a pedestrian in the daylight, but generally they’re great places to run. Even in the middle of the day I’ll see people scooting through in shorts + running shoes.
With just a short stop in Pisa, Italy I found my hostel on the map then zoomed out until I saw a blotch of green. Bam, a city park! The morning before my flight I wove through the streets to the green rectangle on the map. There I found a long stretch of park with both paved + gravel paths. The entire park was empty at 8am, with the exception of a few other runners.
Ask a local! This seems like a bit of a ‘well, duh’ option, but after a few failed attempts at getting running advice from people who ‘only run when they’re being chased’ I kind of gave up on it. However, you hotel/hostel/AirBnB host may have some great recommendations. Even if they aren’t runners you can ask for popular places for hikers or dog walkers. Technically running is exactly that, just at a slightly faster pace.
At my hostel in Girona, Spain I asked for some place nearby to run in the morning. The guy at reception gave me awesome details on how to get up a nearby summit. I didn’t have time before my 9am departure to cover all the miles, but his advice got me out of the city, through a few fields + onto the ancient wall surrounding the building. Know what’s awesome? Running along a historic rock wall with views of the entire city all around you + not a single person in sight!
While my training is far from perfect [is perfect training even attainable?!] I have been running + my body can tell. My determination to have a ‘happy race’ at the Silverton Ultra 100K has forced me to get outside my comfort zone while I’m traveling. I can’t always be the wandering tourist or the trail running chasing summits. If I want to actually get my legs ready for hours upon hours in race mode I need to get my butt out the door + train…even if it is in the city + even if I have to put some actual leg work into finding safe places to run.
However, I am now in Switzerland at Chalet Martin…surrounded by amazing mountain trails. It is incredibly easy to get out onto technical terrain with steep mountain climbs + rugged descents. All the while I get to let my heart dance around with glee. I can’t complain, running here in the Swiss Alps is pretty incredible.
My training has ramped up a bit since I arrived at Chalet Martin two weeks ago. Even if I’m ‘just hiking’ my adventures include some pretty aggressive hill work with impressive ‘time on feet’ endurance training. It’s not always easy to get out on a run when friends are headed in the opposite direction for a hike. That’s exactly where my trail training fell apart last year — I was forever opting for a group hike instead of a solo run. Luckily, I’ve been able to get out on a few runs this time around. My poor little legs…phew! They’re definitely getting their mountain strength back. With time. Hopefully.
The higher mountain trails are still too snow-covered to wander aimlessly up to, but the ‘right at treeline’ trails have been stellar. Quite honestly, I think the sorta snowy mountains make the Swiss Alps look even more impressive. I have one more week of running around these mountains before I take on a week of semi-recovery with a bucket load of hiking around the UK with Robb. My running will probably be non-existent when we’re road tripping through England, Wales + Scotland…but that’s not to say my legs won’t get one heck of a workout there!
Bits + Pieces of My Life…As Seen in the Story Above