THERE’S something I always bring when I go on holiday. I try to pack light, but beside the barest essentials, I always take my running shoes.
I started running six years ago and now run everyday – it's how I get to and from work and is a part of my daily routine.
It also stays that way when I go away.
At weekends, I like to run off the beaten track and it’s the same on holiday – I run to explore. There’s no better way to get a quick introduction to a place and to understand how somewhere works.
A run is a quick foray – a recce of new territory. It doesn't take much time, but it gives you an intense hit of the place you are in – and you can do it before breakfast, leaving you buzzing for
the day of exploring that lies ahead of you.
A quick spin through an unfamiliar city on your first morning of your stay is a magical way to explore a place.
I usually try and plan a route taking in landmarks close to where I stay.
So in Budapest recently my run took through the broad Rakoci avenue, through the heart of the city, along the banks of the Danube and bridges over this mighty river, finishing with a lap of
Margaret island in the middle of the river. So popular is running here, they’ve laid a running track around the island’s perimeter.
It can be equally entertaining to run in a country where running for fun is rare.
When visiting in Aleppo in Syria a few years ago, I exchanged ‘salams’ with bemused locals as I went for my morning dart.
Often, though, I would see no-one about and could explore the sights of this country before people awoke, like the ruins of the desert city of Palmyra, where I witnessed a lightning storm as I ran
between the pillars edging a street built 2,000 years ago.
Running gives me a reason to go out and see things like this at strange hours and it brings memories that are that much more special.