running-shoes-suitcaseAs the mother of a nine-month-old who was still nursing and an almost three-year-old, taking a business trip was not my ideal way to spend three days and two nights. Between missing my family and pumping three times a day, not to mention 12-hour work days, I did not book my airline tickets without carefully evaluating if the trip was necessary. But, alas, there is business that simply needs to happen in person and that is why I boarded a plane to San Francisco and then drove to Palo Alto.

Before leaving, I over-analyzed everything from packing to meeting schedules in an attempt to successfully keep up my breastfeeding routine sans baby. Half of the cubic inches of space in my luggage were filled with milk extraction and storage items. In an effort to fit everything into my luggage, I was tempted to remove my running shoes from the packing list. After a long day of meetings, I was sure glad that I didn’t.

It was thrilling Thursday morning to wake up to the Sleep Cycle appon my iPhone (it never works at home because my kids always wake me up first) at 5:45am feeling relatively refreshed even after less than seven hours of sleep. After a quick rubbing of the eyes, I hooked myself up to my breast pump and got dressed in running clothes. I decided to use the gym at the hotel because I had not packed warm running clothes as I didn’t have room in my luggage. Four miles on the treadmill and 100 ab exercises later, I felt so much better about the fact I would be in a conference room for the next ten hours. Friday morning was even better as I realized the February weather in Palo Alto was warm enough to run outside with only a long-sleeve t-shirt and shorts. I verified the area was safe with the hotel front desk and took off in the direction of my company’s headquarters which if I recalled correctly was between two and three miles away.

It is always amazing to me how much more you take in on a run than driving. Even though my co-worker and I had driven past the same buildings a dozen times, I noticed for the first time hidden hotels, restaurants of every type of cuisine, a tiny little Chinese Bilingual Montessori School, the NY Stock Exchange building and oh so much more.

This short business trip reminded me of one of my favorite pairings, running and travel. It also forced me to dust off this list of tips I usually follow and definitely plan to remember for my next trip in an effort to make both trip and runs better.

Tip #1: Pack your running shoes. Sure they take up a lot of space. Stuff your socks inside and make room. They will not disappoint.

Tip #2: Pack a variety of clothes. You don’t know the weather patterns of the area so even though 50 degrees usually means shorts at home, it may come with a biting wind in your destination city. Pack a variety of running clothes to accommodate weather conditions that may be harsher than you are expecting based on the weather forecast.

Tip #3: Ask the hotel staff about the safety of the neighborhood. They will be able to give you a good sense for whether you can run safely outside before sun up and even recommend which direction to take off in. If there is any hesitation about safety, stick to the hotel gym.

Tip #4: Use the hotel gym to refill your water bottle. I always buy a bottle of water at the airport and then refill it for the remainder of the trip. While it is straightforward to refill at the office, it can sometimes be challenging to find a place to refill in the evening. The hotel gym always has the water you are seeking.

Tip #5: Go for a run your first morning in town. Running is such a great way to explore a new place. Running on your first morning will allow you to explore the area and help you discover restaurants you want to try, shops you want to check out and give you a navigational leg up with the area.

Tip #6: Ask a local for scenic running spots. Usually even if the person you question doesn’t run, they still will have a good idea of where other people do run and be glad to share some tips. I like to ask the most fit-looking person at the front desk or the concierge the night before since often times when I am headed out to run at oh dark thirty, nobody is around.

Tip #7: Take your smart phone (& preloaded app) with you. In the olden days (five years ago) taking your phone on a run would have been a good idea so that you could call someone in case you needed help. Nowadays our smart phones are so powerful, they can help us navigate, entertain us with music, track our mileage/pace and so much more. I have an iPhone and I love the app, Runtastic because it not only shows you a map of where you are (in case you get lost) but you can even allow others to track you while you are running. Sure, it’s nice others can send you cheers to help motivate you but this functionality is even more valuable if you are nervous about someone knowing where you are. Your husband or mom or best friend can track you on the Internet while you run even when you are hundreds of miles away. This functionality can also be turned off if you are concerned about the stalker’ish aspect of it, which I totally am.

Tip #8: Bring cash or credit card. Any time you are venturing far from home on foot or bicycle, I think it is a good idea to have at least $5 cash on hand or a credit card in case you get really thirsty/hungry and need to buy water/food. You may also just want to reward yourself with a post-run coffee. It’s small and fits into the pocket in your running shorts or tights and it has come in handy for me on a number of occasions.

Tip #9: Just do it. When your alarm wakes you early, don’t let the bed seduce you into sleeping in until the latest possible time and cause you to skip your run. Even though you feel tired, the exercise will wake up your body and make you even more productive all day long.

While I did miss my kids and husband a lot and it was a pain to fit pumping into a hectic travel schedule, the opportunity to explore a new place on foot as well as meet co-workers for the first time and of course two nights of uninterrupted sleep made the trip worthwhile!

I hope that these tips will help your next running adventure of town to be a good one!