Running Abroad

What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials. How could they be expected to understand that?

Once A Runner, John L. Parker, Jr

Why Run Abroad?

Or why run at all, you may ask. We were all born runners; why else would humans evolve with the ability to stand upright, while giving up the strength we see in many apes and the speed of moving with four limbs?

Because we were designed to be long-distance runners.

Regulating our body temperature by sweating and running down our prey over time is instinctive. I intend to follow that drive around the world.

More to the point, I just feel better connected when I’m running: in touch with my own body’s potential and energy, connected to the animals that still have to run to catch their dinner and don’t have the luxury of Domino’s. Sorry to go all guru on you, but it’s how I feel.

As a matter of practicality, running is a great way to stay in shape when you travel, as it requires little-to-no equipment and the greatest hurdle is a mental block: “Why should I be running when I can go visit that shrine/eat at that foreign food stall/jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”

Well, you can still do those things. And more. Running gives you the energy, the high metabolism to eat anything you want all the time without too many ill effects (though you’ll find you want to avoid certain foods by choice), and a unique perspective on how cultures revere this simple act of fitness.

Try running on the grassy fields of Kenya where the Masai warriors herd cattle. Jog on over to One Tree Hill in Auckland and follow in John Walker’s footsteps. Race in a Japanese “marathon” just to hear spectators shouting “ファイト! ファイト!” (Fight! Fight!). Try to think in kilometers instead of miles; after all, the United States is just plain stupid when it comes to measurements. Running culture around the world is what I crave, and what I seek to teach you.

5 Lesser Known Ways To Stay Fit When Traveling
10 Tips For Beginning Marathoners

Personal Records

– Austin Freescale Marathon, February 2005, 3:00:57
– Boston Marathon, April 2006, 3:04:46
– RunTex 30K, January 2005, 2:05:53
– Motive Bison Stampede Half Marathon, November 2004, 1:27:59
– Congress Avenue Mile, June 2009, 5:13

I’m still planning on doing the Tokyo Marathon, the original marathon in Greece, one in Kenya, and one in New Zealand. Haven’t decided exactly where to run in South America… I welcome any suggestions. Marathon Tours & Travel is one of only two organizations to offer a marathon experience in Antarctica; that too is on the agenda.


I speak like a foreigner, but I run like a Kenyan.
– My creed to running in Japan

To give less than your best is to give away the gift.
– Steve Prefontaine

“The marathon is a race of attrition.” You’ve got to understand that. You’ve got to come to grips with that… No one really wins a marathon. You just survive it better.
Again to Carthage, John L. Parker, Jr.

A runner who could not run was out of his element. He would not even think of himself as an athlete; ridiculously there would be a kind of guilt about it; that was the worst part. He would begin to feel uncomfortable around his training comrades and the feeling would be mutual, like a newly wounded soldier among the embarrassed whole ones, who would not wish to be reminded of certain crap game aspects of life.
Once A Runner, John L. Parker, Jr.

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Need Advice on Living Abroad?

Thinking of teaching English in Japan? Volunteering in Thailand? Backpacking around New Zealand? If you're looking for some insider tips on the places to go and the people to meet, check out my consulting services. If you just have a few questions, no worries: email me.