Global Footprints - Tips of an Avid Travethlete

By Desmond Ang

“So what time are we leaving tomorrow ah?” This is always an important question asked before we conclude the day. I’ll then proceed to wake up about an hour early, pound the streets for a good 40 minutes, and then be ready to conquer another day. This is probably familiar to you if you travel a lot or simply like to travel, and to also get some endorphins in. This happened in Taipei, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Venice (Italy), Vienna, London, Plitvice lakes and about 30 more cities that I’ve been to. Running while travelling has been a priority for me, and we’ll discuss why so later. First and foremost however, we’ll have to explore the logistics involved.

Planning is King – but keep it loose!

How are the roads there? What time is it safe to run over there? Is it safe at all? A dozen questions come up if you really think about it, so I’ll suggest you do your research. Being a light traveller, my logistical considerations are: how much gear do you need, a variation of shoes (are they really necessary though), wash your gear or not. I will plan my gear accordingly, and will usually wash them on the run (not literally!). Weather is hence important, and that’ll determine how long it takes to dry these clothes. For the fashion conscious, we can think try to complement our workout gear as casual wear.

On the run, I find it mostly essential to bring some cash, some sort of ID (laminated mini-version passport maybe?), and maybe my mobile just so I can find my way back (who knows what will happen right?). I also recommend noting super-early mornings (and make them non-running days) and work my runs around it, but this depends on individual travel plans. One can definitely keep a lookout for a local race too!

The Copenhagen School Campus Relay on my exchange semester

I suggest that we however keep out workouts loose though, for we can’t possibly foresee everything. Having a destination is fine, but routes should never be fixed. We will never know if there is a blockage, dodgy streets, or a lane too crowded. Some of the workouts might also depend a lot on the surroundings, so keep it chill and do not be too hard-up if you can’t get a workout in! Also, you can shy away from your GPS watch, watch the surroundings and not your pace 

** Additionally, I look out for tracks and local gyms or even a park nearby for alternative workouts, just to throw in some fun. Squats, hill workouts, and other variations can be done rather easily.

On the Run

Maintaining our stamina is what all runners are worried of right. I mean yes, but this reason aside, it is also the freshness new routes in a foreign land brings that adds to morale of the athlete. What I find impactful during a run on such trips are the moments that take our breath away, figuratively

This includes checking out potential “makan” (eating) places, encounter unexpected people, cultural sightings, cafes etc. I was having a class in Guangzhou and running around the estate did provide these. I feel that my personal connection and insights to the city were just a little deeper than my peers, and I always have ideas for breakfast!

If it is in the morning, it’ll may be an entirely difference scene seeing the city before it wakes up. The cities of Venice (Italy) and Lisbon (Portugal) were particularly impressionable, as the fresh morning air that greets me were tremendously energizing. I get to enjoy the city without traffic, and dived into the perfect harmony of my own thoughts and aura that these cities emanate.

Me or Us-time
This could prove to be a valuable alone time especially if you stick to a group of people over a long time. On the other end of a spectrum, it could also be a platform to bond and share laughter, selfie-moments, and a sense of achievement over good endorphins.

Running in the morning can be exciting for some friends. “Desmond, are you going to run when we are there?” is a common question, and when friends tag along, it usually calls for a fun selfie moment!

A run with the classmates in Guangzhou

Although many consider me a social butterfly, I do enjoy running by myself very much. I always travel in a group, so this can be crucial me-time. Again, this varies quite a bit for different people.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling on its own always remains my top-most priority. I however see running as a crucial, integral, and an almost unmissable travel experience. My mentality during these runs are a good mix of excitement and sentiment; I treat each run like the last in that city, reflect on previous days, or simply be thankful that I get to run in these beautiful cities of great, contrasting personalities.

The best part of being a travethlete? You’ll never run out of places to run!


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