Running is a great way to explore a community whether you are visiting or settling. I ran regularly before I left Canada and wanted to keep it up, yet my new homes were crazy hot and humid! Through running in Thailand, Australia and Japan, I discovered some ways to improve the experience and stay safe.
1. ID, ID, IC UR ID
When I told my co-worker in Japan that I was planning on running, she told me to carry identification. Her friend was pulled over by police while out for a run with no ID and was questioned. While it can seem like a pain to carry a passport or other form of ID, sometimes the country requires it. It’s also handy if you’re lying on a road somewhere unconscious. (It could happen!)
2. I’m lost. Again. Help!
Running with a cell phone bouncing around in my pocket was annoying and I couldn’t remember my husband’s cell number if I left my cell at home. Even though I didn’t do this, carry the phone number or business card of someone who can help you (plus money), even if you simply get lost. In Japan, public phones are rare so a convenience store is your best friend (along with free, clean toilets.) In rural areas, all the best!
3. Sweat catcher required
My hat is for catching sweat thanks to a strip of terry towel in the band. It also has a long brim and mesh top and I can throw it in the washing machine. A local running or sports store may have something similar.
4. H2O is life!
I hate carrying a water bottle. I like my hands free and I cannot stand sloshing water nor a bottle or bag on my back. Drinking on the run also means I need an emergency pee stop when there is usually only open land. If you also don’t like to carry water, check your pee! If it’s pale yellow, you’re okay. Otherwise, consider drinking up. I usually get home thirsty so I have more water then. Water fountains are common in many communities, usually in parks, in Japan and Australia, as long as you are in a city. Rural areas can be more of a challenge.
5. Whoa! Slow down, my friend.
I imagine myself a gazelle, bounding for the first few minutes of my runs until I realize that my collapse is imminent. Relaxing into an easy pace then seems like a fantastic idea. Do the gazelle thing at the end, if you have the energy, and stick with the slug pace for most of your run. You’ll be happier on those 98% humidity, +35 Celsius days when you just have to run. You can also try alternating running and walking.
6. Touch your toes
The benefit of running in insanely hot weather is my muscles are already warm so I don’t stretch before. Other people always stretch before so it’s up to you. I then take a solid 20 minutes (or more) of an easy walk after a run and before I stretch or my body retracts into a pretzel.
7. Cover up
Consider wicking clothing made for the climate you are running in. I picked up a running shirt in Australia and it made all the difference. Although it seems contrary, consider long sleeves. Your skin is protected from burning, especially if you sweat sunscreen off, it’s cooler since your skin is covered, and you have a sweat wipe. Also, consider the community where you are running. While the foreigner out for a jog where running is not common might be amusing, offending the locals is not so find out what’s acceptable beforehand. (The pic below is me in my travelling running outfit after surviving a petrifying summit hike in Australia.)
8. Stinky feet
My runners reek in hot, humid weather so I take out the insoles, stretch the laces wide and try to leave them in the sun. If you get caught in a downpour, stuff your shoes with crumpled newspapers to soak up the water. This also helps if your shoes are sweaty and you cannot dry them outside.
If you want natural air conditioning while running, consider shoes that have mesh tops. My Salomon trail runners were phenomenal and I could wear them instead of sandals (with socks!) and my feet stayed comfy.
9. Can you see me?
In Japan, I often ended up running after work in the dark. Know the rules of the road for pedestrians. Some towns want people on the right (against traffic) and others want them on the left (with traffic), especially if there are no sidewalks (common in many rural areas). Consider carrying a light and dress in light-colored clothing. Reflectors in different styles are available at 100 Yen stores in Japan.
10. Get out of your bubble
I want to hear that dog lunging at my calf while jogging on a dusty road in rural Eastern Thailand or dodge the motorcycle whizzing past me on a narrow street in Japan. If you run where you do not know the area and do not speak the language well, consider keeping your eyes and ears open. I did not have any trouble running where I lived, but I saw plenty of wacky goings-on during my daily life. Have fun but be safe. (And watch out for spiders, especially in Iwaki. They are huge!)
If you run or walk in hot, humid climates, how do you stay comfortable?