I have talked about things that can keep you from working out, such as being sick, very cold or icy weather, or just ‘not feeling it’. But recently I have had to deal with another challenge to getting in my daily run – I have been traveling out of state to work on a major project at one of my company’s other locations. It is a large and important effort, and while it comes with high prestige and visibility it also has the downsides of taking me away from home and sticking me in the normal array of chain hotels. Over the last four weeks I have stayed at three different hotels, and while each has pros and cons I am constantly reminded of something I was told years ago, which is that your workout is where you find it.
For some it isn’t a huge issue – each of the hotels I’ve stayed at has some sort of fitness center, the smallest of which had a treadmill, an elliptical machine and a multi-function weight setup. And very close to one of the hotels there was a fitness center that only cost $4 for a visit with your hotel key. One of the other people traveling for the project went to that facility and reported that it has loads of fitness systems and capabilities. But there are a couple of problems: first, at all but one of the hotels the fitness centers open at 6AM (too late for me); the second problem is that I am a road runner, and that is the only workout I really want.
Being a distance road runner means finding a route that is at least five miles long, but no more than ten miles due to time constraints. I also want some street lights if possible, and the route to be safe. It is hard to determine all of this before seeing a place, but I have had some success simply using a map. Looking at the image at the top, you can see the route I chose at my most recent hotel. The total distance was ~8 miles, and you might be able to tell that almost the entire thing is in a tightly packed residential area. In the upper right part of the map I hit farmland with a narrow road and no lights … so I only did that part one day.
But the big thing to notice is that between my hotel and the bulk of my route was a multi-lane 55MPH highway. The road is 2 main lanes each way, a turn-lane on each side, and a grassy median. Crossing that type of road is generally on my ‘to be avoided’ list, but at that hotel there is no choice if I want to go for a run. Fortunately I noted that even at 10PM when I arrived there was very little traffic, and when I hit the roads at 4:30AM I had no problem crossing. The bigger challenge on that route ended up being the sharp hills up and down all of the roads. But that is a problem I seek out regularly!
For this next week I am back at a different hotel that I stayed at a couple of weeks ago. This location highlights the bizarre zoning in the area – there is industrial, commercial, apartments, small houses, mini-mansions, and farmland all in the same few square miles. The 9-mile route above is what I call my ‘farm route’, since that big rectangle is all farmland … and no lights. The bottom boundary is also a 55MPH road, but with a wide breakdown lane that makes for easy running. This time I made sure my headlamp is properly charged, and that I am prepared for the somewhat warmer weather. And while I would rather just be on the familiar roads of home, sometimes the demands of the job mean being elsewhere, and since getting my runs is very important to me, I remind myself that your workout is where you find it.