It’s always tough to strike the right balance between work and keeping fit. Long hours and extensive business travel combine to prevent a regular routine – planned weekly classes, training sessions and team sports rarely fit into the business schedule.
So I’ve been packing my running shoes alongside my laptop for the past 15 years, snatching a run whenever possible in cities around the world. Very often these are pre-dawn or after-dark, which given the unfamiliarity of the surroundings, can make them seem quite adventurous, even occasionally a bit risky. But anything is better than the sweatbox of the hotel gym with its ageing treadmills, low ceilings and creaking air conditioning.
Having clocked up 37 countries in the last decade, here’s my entirely personal view on the best 5 cities for a cheeky run:
The Danes are just great, and they have a capital city to match. As clean, fresh and invigorating as its northern neighbours, but with a sense of fun that some other Scandinavian cities lack.
The harbour, the Tivoli gardens and the laid back, traffic-lite city centre make for a great run. And the combination of vigorous exercise with post-run beers (which the Danes do really rather well) is enough to bring out the inner Viking in all of us.
Well, Miami Beach to be precise. Had the good fortune to be here for three days in early December. Leaving the dark, dreary UK for 25 degrees and sunshine was fabulous. The benefit of jet lag meant I was up before first light and had the beach to myself as the sun rose over the Atlantic.
Vitamin D levels topped up, I felt super energised for the day ahead.
Growing up in a world where Moscow was unreachable and hence immensely enticing, the chance to take a quick run from the Belorusskaya Vokzal down to Red Square and back was not to be missed.
Lenin’s mausoleum is an incredible building, the Kremlin and St Basil’s are spectacular, but for me the wide boulevards and the Soviet architecture are the stars, taking me to centre stage in a Cold War spy thriller of my own imagination.
The stares of the traffic bound Muscovites towards the solitary runner only added to the feeling.
There’s the obvious run round the harbour taking in the bridge and the Opera House, or there’s a great run south along the coast from Bondi Beach if you have a bit more time and daylight. But my favourite was when I was holed up in the backwater of Parramatta in the western suburbs. Again jet lag woke me early and I set off with only a rough idea of the geography of the place. Spent some time negotiating trading estates and a prison complex before unexpectedly coming across the Olympic Stadium. A member of staff let me in for a quick look round. Sadly, the running track was long gone, but I still jogged around the rugby pitch and dreamed.
A tiny city not far from Zurich, reached by a breathtaking train journey. It is, I think, probably the most beautiful place in the world. A cuckoo-clock old town spills onto a stunning lake surrounded by oversized mountain peaks. Several multinationals make this their HQ, meaning I’ve been lucky enough to run from here a few times. A not so quick dash up the mountain immediately behind the town rewards you with views to kill for and a close up of the biggest Swiss flag you’ve ever seen. The trip downwards through the meadows is exhilarating if you’re prepared to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. I did, hit a rock, broke a metatarsal and had to limp sorrowfully back to base before spending six weeks in plaster. Worth every second though.
I’m always on the lookout for new running experiences, so any suggestions gratefully received…