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Tips for Running in Europe

Hi friends! Matt and I are officially in the Outer Banks in North Carolina on our annual beach trip with our families, so I asked my friend Ashley to pop in and share a guest post with some of her favorite Tips for Running in Europe. Ashley lived in Switzerland for the past 2 years until just recently moving back to NYC. I had a lot of fun reading about her European travel and running adventures, so I thought those of you preparing for European vacations would enjoy some tips! You guys know running a new place is my favorite way to explore, after all. :) Here’s a picture of us running along the lake in Geneva last summer, when I was lucky enough to pay her a quick visit as part of my European travels. (My recap: A day and a half in Geneva, Switzerland.) Take it away, Ashley!

tips for running in europe

Tips for Running in Europe
by: Ashley from Healthy Happier Bear

For the past two years, I’ve spent my days and weekends running across Europe! While working in Geneva, Switzerland as an expat I spent many hours each week running along the gorgeous lake and trail paths.

Due to the proximity of European cities, my husband and I often found ourselves traveling multiple times a month. We spent our weekends exploring French vineyards, tasting our way through Italy and toasting pints of Guinness in Ireland. Every weekend, there was a new and delicious reason to indulge in local treats. I quickly realized that the best way to ensure I could truly experience each new city without any negative side effects of tight clothes was to run through Europe.

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Over 24 months I ran in 16 different countries and countless towns, cities, mountains and hillside paths. As you prepare for your own trips abroad, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips and tricks to running in Europe.

1. Never travel without your running shoes and one running outfit. There is no better way to explore a new city than on your own two feet. Running in the early hours, before a city wakes up, allows you sneak peeks at popular monuments and sites without the tourist crowds. The aroma of fresh baked croissants or Italian cappuccino will definitely motivate you to finish that last mile a bit faster. Keep in mind, before traveling, that you most likely will not be able to find your favorite fuel, accessories or even running gear in Europe. Before traveling, take an extra minute to double check your bag for chargers, running gear, and fuel! I learned the hard way that replacing gear is expensive AND the last thing you want to do when you only have a few days in a city. I also tuck a few large Ziplock bags or plastic grocery bags in my suitcase so I can put dirty running shoes and sweaty clothes in them.

2. Never run empty handed! Far too many people leave their Airbnb or hotel with nothing so they can enjoy a quick run through the city streets. Getting out for a run is great, but please be smart. I always travel with a snack size plastic bag that can hold 10 euros, my credit card, a small piece of paper with the address of my lodging, and a public transit pass for that city. This extra step of precaution will ensure that you can buy water from a cafe or bodega if you get thirsty or get home in case you get lost or too tired.

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3. If you have time, book a running tour! Bo and I did running tours in multiple cities including Barcelona and Paris. (Note from Anne: Ashley’s blog is actually how I found out about the cool Paris Running Tour that I did last summer!) Many cities offer multiple running tour options ranging from more expensive private tours to free group tours. Especially in larger cities, which can easily be overwhelming, a running tour will help you see city highlights and learn more about it before a day of museums and sightseeing. Since the running tour guides are locals, they can help you with restaurant suggestions, museum tips and more! Go Running Tours is a great global website that allows you to book and find running tours all over the world on one site. If you don’t have time to book a tour, take advantage of sites like MapMyRun to find routes in different cities or ask your hotel or AirBnB host.

4. Running races is a fun way to experience a city’s running culture. If you find yourself in a larger European city, there is a great chance there is a race taking place that weekend. You can use Google to search for local races, many of which allow registration up until the race start. If you’re an avid half marathon or marathon runner, planning a trip around a destination race could be an even better idea! Many large companies such as Nike Women and Rock’n’Roll feature races in Europe as part of their race series as well. Just a note: many European races require a medical form be filled out by your doctor providing their stamp of approval that you are healthy enough to run the race.

5. Try something new! Running in a new city is a great excuse to try something you haven’t done before such as running on a beach, trail running or running with a group. Some of my best memories from our time in Europe include running dressed as an elf with new friends in London and running through the mountains in France and Switzerland with my friend and ultra-runner, Renaud. Put your embarrassment and self-consciousness aside and have fun. You can always stop to walk if you decide you’ve had enough! If you want to do something such as trail running, make sure you take proper water and food supplies with you as well as running with a partner or group. This is another example of when a running tour would be a great option as most running tours in regions like Switzerland, Spain, and the French Alps include trail run options! 

Have fun and happy running!

What’s your favorite European city/country to run in – or one you’d love to run in someday?

Comments

  1. 1

    What a neat way to explore Europe! I would love to try any city really. I think Greece or Italy would be beautiful.

  2. 2

    Great photos! They look just like post cards. I’ve yet to make it to Europe and I have a list of places on my bucketlist that I must see. How neat for you to have lived there and had the opportunity to travel.
    I’ve always wanted to go to Italy and Spain, but really I want to see it all!

  3. 3

    Ohhh those are beautiful pictures! And what a great idea, for the races to require medical papers. I mean, it would be time consuming and I’m sure annoying to have to get one from your doctor, but I can imagine it would a) shrink the field so its not overcrowded, and b) give the race directors a bit of relief.

  4. 5
    Roadrunner says

    Great post, thanks! Hope you’re enjoying the beach, Anne. And, favorite European city in which to run? London, because of Hyde Park – not as far around as Central Park in NYC, but a beautiful — and beautifully maintained — green space in the center of one of the world’s great cities!

  5. 6

    Great tips, especially always running with the address of your hotel. I studied abroad in Germany and loved running throughout all the beautiful parks and trails there.

  6. 8

    Greatly enjoyed your post !

    I have lived in Paris for 23 years and travel a lot for work. I fully agree with all your tips. I was not familiar with Go Running Tours but definitely going to check it out.

    I find what surprises people most coming to Europe for a race is the need for a medical certificate to be able to run.

  7. 9

    Love this post! I spent a semester in college traveling through Europe and ran in 11 countries in 3 months! It was definitely a highlight of the semester being able to experience so many amazing cities through running!

    My favorite was running along the river canals in Bruges, closely followed by Hyde Park in London. I even made my husband run in Hyde Park with me in the dark on the first morning of our honeymoon!

  8. 10

    J’ADORE this post! i’m obsessed with europe and can’t wait to run many destination races there <3

    thanks for that practical tip about keeping safety precautions in mind! just because you're on vacation doesn't mean the rest of the world is!

  9. 11

    Great post! I have a similar situation and I agree!! :) It’s a great way to explore a new city and get in your planned workout if you are traveling over the weekend :) I live in Paris and run there often- the trick is to find the right spots in Paris, since they don’t really run in the street here (not that you have room!!). Try along the Seine (beware of cobbles in the center sections, best to stick to the newly refurbished parts near Pont de l’Alma), in the parks (Bois de Vincennes is a favorite of mine, or do loops around the Eiffel tower at the Champ de Mars, each lap is about 2 km), or try the hidden Promenade Plantee /Coulee vert (I took Anne here when she was visiting!). If you’re looking for killer hills in relatively flat Paris, go to Parc Buttes Chaumont! :) Paris is also a great city to run a half or full marathon in! As long as you have a health certificate you’re good to go, no time requirements, it’s usually cool and cloudy (great running weather) and you have great views :)

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