In travel writing circles many talk about how to feel more ‘local.’ I once wrote about how much I liked going for a run in a foreign city. It always made me feel like I wasn’t a tourist – running through the streets of Valencia or Melbourne or Minneapolis (at least at this pace it appeared as if I knew where I was going), finding a park, and often running alongside locals on their daily run. It was good for my spirit and body and also a great way to see some parts of a city that I may have missed – excercise and sightseeing all rolled into one feel-good package.
The only problem was I would feel the need to intensely study my map before leaving my hotel. I definitely didn’t want to carry it with me, but I certainly didn’t want to get lost in some foreign city that I had little to no geographical knowledge of with nothing but my iPod and a room key. On the other hand, I have to admit, I did like this challenge and the independence it made me feel. Plus, the slight fear of getting completely lost probably invigorated me and gave me that extra energy I needed to run just a bit more or a bit faster. Who needs Red Bull when you have natural fear and anxiety to keep you going?
Well, now there is a website, that takes the fear out of running in a new place…or even your own hometown. WalkJogRun.net helps you plan running routes by drawing them out on a map for you. It’s sort of a Google Map mash-up including route markers, a distance/speed calculator, and even a calorie burn estimator so you can specifically run off that morning chocolate croissant in Paris, last night’s extra few glasses of Kölsch in Cologne, or that midnight Kogi taco in Los Angeles.
Not only can you plan your own route, you can ‘borrow’ other’s routes as well. And for those of you with an iPhone…of course there is an app so you can basically bring the ‘map’ along with you after all.