Some of my favourite travel memories have come from runs that I have gone on in foreign countries.
I'm not talking about organized races with thousands of participants. No, I'm talking about a solo jog that forces you to wake up early before the crowds take over the street and shows you a side of the city that you would never see if you were just walking around.
Why is running in a foreign city so great?
Well, first of all, you are usually up earlier than normal, which means that the streets are empty giving you an unobstructed view of the city. The warm morning light illuminates stonework that you never saw before and you can almost imagine what it would be like to live there.
And that moves me to my next point — if you are running in a country where physical activity is normal, you become almost invisible, you are now looked at as a local, part of the place, and not a tourist. (On the other hand, if you are visiting a country where going for a run isn't normal, it will be painfully obvious. In some countries I was completely ignored when I ran by, in others I was stared at, and in others I have been yelled at and whistled at. But, I have never felt threatened.)
Not bogged down by cameras, guide books, and bags full of miscellaneous items that you would normally take out on a day of touring around, you are truly free to just take in the sights and sounds of the new would around you.
Running has taken me past Frances Mayes' house in Tuscany, through the royal gardens at the Schonbrunn Palace in Austria, over cobblestone streets in Amsterdam, and past ruined buildings and over white sand in Phuket.
Give it a try — you never know where your feet might take you!