Stay in shape and see the sights at the same time!
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure: I am not now nor ever will be a jogger. The closest I come to running is lacing up a pair of New Balance athletic shoes, which are extremely comfortable on my big feet and which I wear everywhere except to bed. But that’s it.
I don’t even like to jog my memory.
But a lot of you out there are totally into the running thing for good health, and good for you. You also love to travel. But you worry that an extended trip away from home will disrupt your exercise routine and cause you to lose progress you’ve spent months building up.
For you, there’s the perfect solution: jogging tours, just one of a growing category of travel, athletic tourism.
Walking and bicycle tours of the world’s great cities have been around for ages, and backpackers have been doing their thing almost forever. Joggers are relatively new to the travel circuit, but given the worldwide enthusiasm for pounding the pavement for the sake of fitness, it was only a matter of time.
We’re not talking here merely about providing runners with a route map to jog on their own, although you can find plenty of those, too. We’re talking actual tour groups who take in the sights together and burn calories together at the same time.
You veteran runners out there probably already know about these tours. I had to go all the way to Berlin recently before I heard of something they’ve been doing in my hometown of San Diego for years. But if you’re new to the jogging discipline, you may not have heard about this.
Here’s how it works.
You sign up over the phone or online. You pay a small fee. A course is worked out for you according to your physical ability and the sights that interest you. You meet at the appointed time and place with other tourist-joggers of like-minded interest and lung capacity…and off you go!
The Germans have their own named for this. Instead of sightseeing, they call it “sightjogging.”
I’ve already told you I’m no jogger — but if I were, I would love this. You could get yourself one of those sleek form-fitting Under Armor T-shirts made up with your own little message on the back:
“I’M A TOURIST…TRY TO KEEP UP!”
Really, why trot around some boring block or tired track when you can get your cardio on while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or passing under the Eiffel Tower in Paris?
And if you time the traffic lights just right (or just wrong), the Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires — the widest street in the world — could be just the place to work on your sprinting technique.
This boulevard is nine lanes wide, so broad that astronauts can see it from space. Almost everyone who tries to cross that street in one go has to run at some point.
At least, you’ll be dressed for it!
For you singles out there, it’s also a chance to meet like-minded health-conscious travelers with similar interest, tastes and resting pulse rates. And if all goes well, the two of you may find other ways to boost your metabolism together, who knows?
Here’s an (admittedly very) partial list of cities where you can find jogging tours:
- Beverly Hills
- Buenos Aires
- Capetown, South Africa
- Lyon, France
- New York
- San Diego
- Washington DC
You’ll find a list of companies offering running tours on the Cool Travel Sites page. Do some searching online and you’ll probably find some outfits that can and will organize entire trips for groups of runners, but these kinds of tours are especially ideal for independent travelers who would just as soon skip the tour bus.
I suspect there are similar jogging tours in Beijing and other Chinese cities, as well. But given the air quality there — or lack thereof — you might want to do some serious research before you lace up your sneaks in the Middle Kingdom.
If you’re truly serious about your running, you can truly take your jogging tourism to another level in Peru. Companies there will give you the chance to see that country’s sights and train at altitude in the Andes at the same time.
And yes, I know that some of you out there are actually hard-core enough to do that.
I will respectfully applaud and admiringly cheer as you jog past my outdoor table, where I will be sipping on the local beer…and sitting down!