Friday, November 11, 2016

The Runner's Run Vegas Guide

This weekend Las Vegas welcomes the Rock n' Roll Marathon to the city of sin and the Vegas strip. It also happens to be National Run Safety Month. It seems like an unlikely marriage in the city more known for debauchery versus healthy living, so the question comes to mind, how do you blend the two experiences?

I've got several Rock n' Roll Marathons and halfs to my credit and Vegas happens to be one of my favorite getaway spots. I got married in Vegas (as did my sister and brother,) and

celebrated (or rebelled) a previous divorce. 

So  given the above credentials that makes me the Celine Dion (or Rodney Dangerfield) of running in Vegas. I've had some amazing adventures in Clark County, Nevada which I've parlayed into the runner's "Run Vegas Guide." 


Vegas happens to be one of the many places I've traveled around the world (Moscow, Singapore, Dublin,) and I run everywhere I go. That can present challenges (like stray dogs in New Delhi, India) for a runner, but where there is challenge there is opportunity. 



The good news is that while there are likely characters that are "dogs," I've never seen a wild dog chase down a runner in Vegas. Point being, if I can log miles in all these great places, anyone can fit in their healthy options AND have fun in a city like Las Vegas. With that, my suggestions to maximize your run (or fitness) weekend in Las Vegas.


Planning

I posted a video blog this year on "Travel (something I also know a bit about with over 1.4 million miles on United) Tips for Runners. One of the things I talked about is planning. If you have an early "tee time," a spa date with your significant other, or a night of gambling, you're going to need to plan ahead, or your scheduled workout will fall off the calendar. This really isn't any different than the planning you would do in a regular week at home. If you have a long run (or you're racing the marathon on Sunday,) you need to plan around it.
Running the strip early morning

For me personally, on destination races, I try and book extra time on the back end of the trip to celebrate my run and take in what the city has to offer. Having just completed the New York City Marathon this last weekend, I heard something I hear at most expos. Limit your activities and "time on your feet" prior to the race so you have fresh legs on race day.

That might mean, booking a "wing man" for your spouse or significant other so they can take in the sights while you dial it down a bit. 

Once your race is done, go crazy! You earned that burger, night of gambling, or yard(s) of beer. You just ran 26.2 frickin' miles!

Where to Run

This is an ironic section heading as many people flock to Vegas to "get away" or figuratively run away. That's not the kind of running I'm talking about. Just like the surreal setting of walking up Broadway this last weekend at 5AM to get to the start of the New York City Marathon, one of my favorites is to get up early (takes planning!) and run the strip. Yes, you will get strange looks from strange people, but head out early enough and you'll beat the heat, beat the crowds, and see a few late night/early morning stragglers strolling the sidewalks with their volcano drinks in hand. Bring your cell phone and snap that selfie in front of the Welcome to Vegas sign!

Just like any other city you may be visiting, use sites like MapMyRun to find run routes that others have used and posted. Google is also an amazing thing...typing in "run routes in Las Vegas" turned up a great article from Competitor.com that lists a number of other routes a short drive outside the neon glow of the strip including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and one I want to check out next time; the River Mountains Loop trail that boasts 32 miles of trail and includes seven train tunnels--sounds cool to me (pun intended.)

If you are short on time, or don't have the rental car to get you out of town, there are some amazing Vegas hotels  with equally amazing spa/gyms to take advantage of. I know, I know, some people loath the "dreadmill" but given the choice between six beers and a deep-fried pickle for breakfast or a nice six miler looking out over the pool. Plan, and get your six miles in! If you are short on time, get the run in and do your stretching and/or strength work in the hotel room. I have a list of exercises I do several times a week and that can be in the gym, my bedroom at home, or in a hotel room.

Keep it Safe

Regardless of whether you are running in Moscow, Las Vegas, or stepping out your front door, all runners (and other outdoor fitness enthusiasts) need to have safety in mind when you venture outside. Some tips apply at home or abroad, but here are a few I recommend or keep in mind before I lace up the shoes;

1) See and be seen. If you are taking off early in the morning and running at night, you need to wear the right gear which may include reflective clothing or some form of run light. I'm not a fan of the headlamp, but there are many options that light your path and illuminate yourself to increase safety. I like NightRunner 270s (reviewed HERE.) Run on well-lit paths and light yourself up.
2) "Cars are out to get you" and they don't see you or they're Snapchatting or looking at Facebook. Distracted driving is on the rise with the proliferation of smart phones and apps. Assume that car that is approaching does NOT see you.
3) Don't be distracted yourself. Related to the above, you need to constantly be aware of your surroundings. Whether it's looking for cars or looking for snakes on a path; keep your eyes and senses open. If you're running outside, leave the tunes behind so you can hear what's coming.
4) Have a run buddy. Sadly, there are bad people out there and this applies to men and women but women in particular.  I surveyed a few of my female run friends who offered a few more for women;

"always carry a phone"
"always carry pepper spray or some other defense"
"always let someone know where you're running"

5) Wear identification. There are plenty of options available from RoadID, but you can also have your personal information in your run belt or pocket. God forbid something happen out on the run, they need to locate your loved ones.

The Reward

I'm a big fan of rewarding yourself after a good workout. That does not necessarily mean that "deep fried pickle" I mentioned earlier. Look, and you can find healthy options in restaurants and grocery stores virtually anywhere. I found a great list on Thrillist that has the "All the Best Healthy Places to Eat in Vegas."

Your best bet for catching all that Vegas has to offer is Vegas.com. Gamble, watch your favorite sports team from a casino sports book, or catch a show. I'd highly recommend Absinthe (think cirque du soleil meets cheesy carnival that comes to town) at Caesars. Not for the faint of heart, but it's downright hilarious. When we saw the show, I was pulled up on stage to perform an (ahem) private dance for another audience participant. As they say, anything goes in Vegas; including running.


Thanks to Shannon and Melissa  (from Run, Heifer, Run) on twitter (follow me on twitter HERE) for their inputs on run safety for women. Vegas.com commissioned me to write this post. No compensation (other than good luck the next time I go to Vegas) was provided.

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine