As journalist and novelist, Pico Iyer once said, “Anyone who has traveled knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around, but you’re traveling in order to be moved.” For me, therein lies the essence of running in general—an ability to ‘move us’ through movement, not so much in terms of distance traveled in miles, but by ‘taking us away’ in order to ‘bring us back to ourselves’.
Being somewhat of a creature of habit, I tend to follow the same running routine week after week—a long run every Sunday, followed by alternating tempo runs, hill workouts, and recovery efforts peppered throughout the rest of the week. I’m currently over in the UK visiting my family, and as a result, I find I’m struggling with not only adapting to the five-hour time difference but also being out of sync with my running mates on social media.
Not one for running with my phone when I’m at home in Toronto, I usually carry it with me when I’m running in a foreign city or abroad. I’d like to say I do this so as not to miss an opportunity to photograph a new landscape, but in all honestly, I’m so ‘directionally challenged’ that having the ability to access maps and GPS on my phone provides me the sense of security I need to get out the door each morning for my run.
My family lives in the most picturesque pastoral region of England’s west coast region, so it’s safe to say, my runs over here are a stark contrast to the gritty urban vibe that greets me as I routinely crisscross Toronto’s urban core. Whereas in Toronto I’m dodging taxicabs or tiptoeing my way through a maze of streetcar tracks, over here in England, I’m navigating twisty undulating country lanes without a car in sight. I’ve been posting lots of photos of my runs on social media, and that has sparked many questions from the running community about how I incorporate running into my work and recreational travel, and what tweaks—if any—I do to my regular training schedule.
Like many of the athletes I know, I am drawn to running for its ability to quiet all the noise and confusion that surrounds my hectic lifestyle. How ironic that it is through movement, that I seek not silence, but a degree of inner ‘stillness’. When we are able to reach this place as a runner, it’s not as though there is an absence of noise in our mind, but rather, it’s the fluidity of motion, which allows us to make the space to hear whatever it is inside us that most demands our attention.
It makes no difference where your travels lead you, making the decision to explore your new surroundings by way of running is sure to be the best way for you to take in all of the cultural, architectural, and nuanced richness of this new environment. By its very nature, running enlists a tactile interaction with our surroundings and opens us to a degree of discovery we could never expect to achieve in any other mode of travel. I love heading out for a run in the pre-dawn light and making my way through a new city or village as it slowly comes to life for a new day.
It’s been said that “wherever you go, there you are”, so it should come as no surprise that the surest way to recalibrate my mind and rejuvenate my soul is found at the other end of a run. If you’re anything like me, half of your suitcase is comprised of your running gear, and one of the first things you do when you arrive at your destination is figure out the most convenient running route and nearest places to have your post-run coffee!
What are some of your favorite experiences running away? I’d love to see, post a picture and tag @runjprun and @iRunNation on Instagram or Twitter.