When I first started running, I couldn’t even run a full mile. I think every runner has started here at one point. As I’ve told friends who would like to get into running as well, you just have to push through that first goal, and then every mile after is a PR (Personal Record) in itself.
To me, running was about clearing my head; getting outside and walking away from my computer, and giving myself a chance to see the world. I would walk for miles a day with my son all over New York City, and loved that I could take in the sights, people watch, and honestly see what is around me instead of always looking down at a screen.
So running became a hobby not to get into better shape (but I’ll take that bonus), but to allow at least one hour per day to myself to see something new. I wasn’t interested in running fast or super far, just getting out there and finishing. That’s what I told myself as I trained for my first half marathon in Baltimore, so I surprised myself when I finished in just under two hours, 20 minutes. (13.1 miles = average of 10 minutes per mile). That means I ran the entire thing – never stopped to walk.
The New Foursquare for Running
If I can do it, I figure, anyone can. You just have to find your reason WHY. Running to see the world has been a wonderful motivator for me, so maybe it will be for you, too! Even if you have to stop along the way, seeing things from the road in “slow motion” on a run is such a different reality than seeing things from a car or train. You really get to see things up close. In just the last year, I’ve ran in over ten different cities.
Honestly, if it weren’t for the Runkeeper app, I might have just tried some miles on hotel treadmills and not explored like this. Tracking my runs on Runkeeper as I tour cities has become my new favorite way of recording my travels. I can save these runs and routes for the future if I ever go back, or share them with anyone who might be visiting the same destination (if you want one, just ask!). Here are ten of my favorite runs from the last year:
1. Boston/Salem, MA
I was up north for a trip and took to the sweltering suburban streets outside of Boston early in the AM. Even after enjoying a night on the town the evening before, I made myself get up and sweat it out. Along the run, I found some hidden signs to creepy historic houses I wanted to explore that I most likely wouldn’t have found by car. Just seeing old New England houses up close on a run is a treat in and of itself.
2. Pittsburgh, PA
If you think Pittsburgh doesn’t have hills, run the south hills. I’ve never cursed hills for their DOWNWARD slopes before. I used to live in Pittsburgh, and these runs allowed me to see the yinzers I missed when I moved away.
3. Beaver, PA
There is always a trail—just ask the locals! A couple days before the Pittsburgh Marathon, I did my final miles on an outdoor track that circled a forest next to a creek that had little waterfalls. I never knew this existed.
4. Miami, FL
I was staying on an island in Coral Gables for a work trip, and a run around the entire thing was less than one mile. The blistering humidity made this one really rough—I actually had to stop at one of the hotels along the way and grab ice water. But as I was rounding all the yachts on the bay, I saw Manatees frolicking in their natural habitat. How beautiful is that?
5. Mystic, CT
Crisp spring mornings are meant for fishing towns. Running downtown allowed me to see a slightly covered sign for a coffee shop that was off the main street. This newly opened bakery was one of the best things I ever discovered. The owners were incredibly nice, baked some of the most delicious pastries we ever ate, and even let my son Max go back into the kitchen to see things up close and try to work the oversized mixer. We would have never found this place by driving by.
6. Poconos, PA
I took my son to one of our favorite getaways in the Poconos for snow tubing. Winter doesn’t slow you down. I bundled the two of us up and sat him in my Bugaboo running stroller. Off we went down frosty paths.
7. Norfolk, Virginia
I was on a work trip right on the harbor. I got up early to go for a run before my conference started only to learn we were there the same weekend as Harborfest. I ran by as they were setting up all the festivities, and got a quick sneak peek tour of one of the massive ships before the crowds arrived. I also got to taste the fresh fish tacos they were making to test the grills—seriously, delicious.
8. Philadelphia, PA
You can’t visit Philly and not run the Rocky Steps. It’s a must. The steps are the beginning of the river path that weaves out of town and is lined with beautiful historic row houses. Seriously, one of the most beautiful runs I’ve ever done.
9. New York City, NY
I mean, I live here—but running lets you explore places you might never go. One of my favorites? Running to Roosevelt Island, around it, and back home. This is about a 7.5 mile route in total and one of the most gorgeous runs you will see. The island isn’t very busy, and the views are second to none. The path is never very crowded, so you are often running on the water by yourself,watching the bustling city only a few feet away.
10. Baltimore, MD
This is an interesting town, and home to my first half marathon. I used to run this town in the dead of winter around Locust Point to the battleship park of Fort McHenry and back.
I hope reading about these awesome runs encourages you to get out there for yourself and see some sites! Actually writing this out makes me realize I need to get out west more often. Looks like I’ll be doing my next 10 city tour past the Mississippi!