Last year I got really lost in Madrid while on a run. I mean really lost. The first 90 minutes were great. I was running through the streets in the early morning and thinking it was a beautiful city. The only people I saw were drunk people walking home from the bar (it was 6:00 am) and there were hardly any cars on the road. Then I realized I had no idea where I was.
I had no money on me, my hotel key was so “cool” it was black with no words and I couldn’t speak Spanish. The next two hours of running while lost were not fun.
I need a running guardian angel
The problem with European cities is that they are old. Most of them aren’t built on a grid system like the cities in the US. Instead the roads are tiny and spiral out from the main square or cathedral. And for people like me who don’t have an amazing internal compass, chances are we won’t get far before we don’t know where we are.
Thankfully, running has become so popular, that some cities have running guides. Until now, I have only read about these guides in Runner’s World but I had never tried one. The reason for this is that I’m a little embarrassed at how slow I run and I’m not really a great conversationalist when running. Once I’m in the zone, my mind kind of drifts off and does other things which may explain why I get lost so often.
This past weekend, I was in Prague — another old and not built on a grid city. Before I arrived, I looked on the map to see where my hotel was and to see if I could map out a running route. Nope. It was going to be complicated. Plus, I don’t like running on cobblestone so I would need to find a path that was paved or dirt. It was time to try a running guide.
Running Tours Prague to the rescue
I found runningtoursprague.com through google and they had everything I wanted. I wanted to run for about two hours. I wanted to see some sites, but mostly I wanted to run in the parks and non-cobblestone areas. And I really didn’t want someone to talk to me as I was staying in the Old Square and could get a history lesson on the city from one of the walking tours in the area later on.
Oh…and I wanted them to get me from my hotel instead of me trying to find them somewhere in a city I didn’t know.
Andy, my guide, was there to meet me exactly at 7 am on Sunday morning. I told him the plan and off we went. He took me along the river, through parks and around the outside of the city through all the green spaces. We climbed hills to see the city from above and then weaved our way back to my hotel. He let me stop and take photos when I wanted and never made me feel like a turtle. It was wonderful.
In fact, it was so wonderful that I ran with him again the next morning. This time we started earlier and he took me on a completely different route that was still away from the tourists. He asked me what I had seen the day before on my own and when I told him, he made sure we ran past a few of the cool things I had missed like The John Lennon Wall, the weird giant babies, Devil’s Creek, the upside down horse statue, the monastery where they brew their own beer and a couple other places.
The miles passed by quickly. For those two hours each day, Andy was my running guardian angel leading me through the maze of streets so I could relax and just enjoy my run.
I’m telling you, seeing Prague through the eyes of runner is the only way to do it.
[featured photo is The John Lennon Wall. This was on my list of things to see but I couldn’t find it on my own. So glad Andy took me there on our run].