Business Traveller (Middle East)
RUN THE WORLD
Put on your trainers to beat jet lag and stress and boost brain power, advises Sam Murphy
When you lace up your trainers and join the locals pounding the pavements and parks at dawn, you experience a place in a way that just isn’t possible from a taxi or boardroom.
A morning run can also prepare you mentally for a challenging day. Researchers at the National Taiwan Sport University found that 30 minutes of moderate exercise optimised mental performance immediately afterwards, while a recent study from the University of Aberdeen suggested that the brain linked physical forward motion, such as running, with the future.“As you move forward, your thoughts about the future may also become more fluid and clear,”says lead researcher Dr Lynden Miles.
Professor Andy Lane, a sport psychologist at the University of Wolverhampton, believes running can also be a good way to cleanse the mind of work-related stress at the end of a day – far more effective than heading straight for the hotel bar.“Running requires concentration, distracting the brain from work matters,” he explains. Green environments, such as a tree-lined park, are best – studies show that our levels of cortisol, the“stress”hormone, are lower here compared with urban settings.
Management consultant Andrew Corroll always tries to fit in a run when he’s working away.“It’s great for getting over jet lag and also helps to shake off any tension after long, sedentary meetings with bad food,” he says.“It punctuates the day and invigorates.”
According to Lane, temporarily switching off from work concerns can help you to put things in perspective and solve problems.“While you’re running, you are synthesising information in the background, so when you engage with work the next time, you may find you have fresh clarity and new ideas,” he explains.
For Katie Walding, an IT consultant, running is simply a great way to enjoy some local colour and a good workout. “I try to run everywhere I go on business,” she says.“I’m a big fan of running tours that combine sightseeing, either individually or in a small group. You get to see the best of the city at your own pace in a short period of time, without fear of getting lost.”
On a recent trip, Walding joined a running tour of Copenhagen.“We have many business travellers,” says Lena Andersson, of tour organiser Running Copenhagen (runningcopenhagen.dk).“Mostly it will be on an early morning run prior to heading off to their meeting or conference.”
“Sightrunning”, as it is known, is a growing trend – Go Running Tours offers circuits in 33 cities worldwide, while US-based City Running Tours operates in 12 cities.
What if you would rather explore independently? There are plenty of apps that allow you to plot a route. Strava, the global online running and cycling community, recently launched Strava Local, an insider’s guide to the best running and cycling routes in 12 cities.
“Every Strava Local guide includes routes of varying difficulty, as well as our favourite places to grab coffee, buy gear or snap a great photo,” says Gareth Nettleton, director of international marketing at Strava.“Our data shows us the world’s most popular routes, and our community of local influencers curate each guide to provide a rich and full experience, whether you’re new in town or rediscovering your city.”
Hotels are gearing up to be more run-friendly, too. Many Crowne Plaza locations offer“run stations”equipped with fruit, water and route maps of varying distances.“The Hotel Bellevue in Seattle has a suspended running track above a couple of basketball courts – it’s fantastic,”Corroll says.“But normally I try to book a hotel near a major park. For example, Jardin des Plantes in Paris, Central Park, or Lumpini Park in Bangkok.
“When it’s not possible to stay near a park, or it’s somewhere I don’t normally travel to, I ask the concierge for advice. The decision to turn left or right out of the lobby can make the difference between a great run and a slog through dodgy or tedious areas. If they don’t have any advice, you can at least get a local map.”
For a running adventure with a built-in bail-out option, invest in a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch – its “back to start” function allows you to retrace your steps, freeing you up to follow your nose.