I am currently in Peru, where we have been on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic since mid-March. In just the past couple of weeks, the government of Peru has partially lifted lockdown restrictions to allow people to exercise outdoors, with some constraints, such as a requirement to wear face masks. It has been heartening to watch people happily return to their sports of choice, most visibly surfing, biking, and running. While it is always great to see fellow runners out on the road, the current situation and the government orders require us all to take steps to ensure we all remain healthy, primarily by maintaining social distance. What a great opportunity to discover new routes and trails!
Where I currently am in Lima, Peru, many of us are used to exercising along the malecón. It has bike and walking paths along with parks, and beautiful breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, with its waves crashing at the bottom of the cliff sides. Even at this time of year as we are heading into winter in the southern hemisphere and Lima is more often than not foggy if not misty, you really can’t beat the views, or so I thought…
Due to the popularity and occasional overcrowding of the oceanfront cliff side path, I began to reconsider my running routes. I opted to explore more of the inland roads and discovered that they are not nearly as crowded as usual, since most businesses remain closed and the throngs of tourists have not yet returned. On one particular run I made my way east from the coast and toward the Huaca Pucllana, a site of ancient ruins including a pyramid from pre-Incan times. Other than a few guards at the gates to enter the archaeological site--each waving at me from a distance and wishing me “buenos días” through their own face masks--, there was almost no one in sight for my whole run. While the site itself is closed, it’s possible to run all the way around it as well as through part of it where the road cuts through the ruins fenced in on either side. I marveled at the sight of the ancient ruins, lost in thought, wondering how many people have for centuries stepped in and around the same places I was stepping.
I returned home feeling rejuvenated. When we can combine running with exploration and discovery, it is doubly rewarding. And we can discover and rediscover places and things even in our hometown or city of residence! I immediately began to map out other routes, incorporating other local ruins and landmarks. I still run the oceanfront route, but by finding other routes I am able not only to enjoy different scenery but also to adjust based on the numbers of people that are out at any one time and work to keep us all as safe and healthy as possible by avoiding all conglomerating in one area.
There are many different techniques you can use for exploring new routes, whether you map them out yourself or find a route already mapped out and shared online. You can use mapping tools to mark a specific route and measure distance if you are planning a specific workout or working towards a specific goal. I tend to employ a more improvisational plan where I know generally where I want to go and how to get there, but don’t map out the route or distance to the last detail. I find this more freeing and it also allows me to adjust more easily if, for example, one street is crowded, by just taking the next one. You can also consider incorporating a run into other errands. For example, you could run to the post office to mail a letter. Try different options and see what works best for you.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, & StayRunning!