How to Learn a City: Run It
Going to a new place is fun: new sights, new food, new people, new smells–the list goes on. However, sometimes it’s hard to get oriented in a new city. You aren’t used to the way the streets run or even what direction they’re going in! Some people can easily figure themselves out in a new city (like Hungry), but others like me need other ways of doing so. For some it helps to drive around. That doesn’t quite do it for me. For me, I run or walk the city.
I don’t figuratively run it–I’m not the mayor (obviously)–I literally run it. What will help you remember which street you take to get to 6th street? Hit the pavement! I find that the tactile experience of running really places me: the smells, the sights, the feeling of the ground beneath my feet, the sounds–it all comes together for me and allows me to create my own personal map.
Not up to running? Walking will do the same trick. Allow yourself to just be silent and take it all in as you move. Look at the street signs, look at physical landmarks, and breathe it all in. Continue your breath, your sight, your awareness, and a map of the city will be built right in your own mind. Try going different routes and exploring new areas. And hey, if you’re running and you find yourself in a bad neighborhood, good thing you have your running shoes on and you can skip yourself on out of there!
Running in a new city also combines fitness and travel. Too often when we travel, we let fitness go by the wayside. Yes, I am completely a proponent of taking it easy and soaking up every bit of relaxation in a vacation, but you will simply feel better if you workout just a little. Even if you do just half your normal workout volume, you will keep that energy level high and not feel horrible eating all those wonderful vacation treats.
So, next time you find yourself in a new city or town–large or small–lace up those shoes and go for a run. It’s a wonderful way to explore and I guarantee you will find some gems and treasures along the way. As always, stay hungry and fit!
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