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I Run This Town. How I Made Istanbul Mine

Travellers are always crunched for time—get the most out of a visit to a new place with running shoes. Paris, Rome, London, Moscow, Oslo, Copenhagen… All beautiful places but a lot of things to see and just a few days to do it. Simple solution: run. Cover the ground from urban city views to waves crashing against the shore in half the time. Outline the landscape early and revisit with your friends who slept in. Own the terrain and conquer the day—hit the ground running.

The streets in Istanbul are vibrant with an old world charm that demands attention—from merchants to pickpockets and musicians who play outside restaurants in the evening. My first morning there I was up with sun and out on the streets before shops were open and people were on the move. I jogged from my hotel through the neighborhood all the way to the iconic Blue Mosque and then to the Hagia Sophia. I made a loop through a different part of the city before heading straight back to my hotel—briefly catching a glimpse of the massive ships that pass through The Bosphorus strait.

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Bonus: That early morning run you also gives premium photo opportunities. Views uncluttered with humans and early morning sunlight peaking over the horizon giving that elusive soft glow photographers love.

I made Istanbul mine. Before the natives could wake up I had the lay of the land and knew how to get to the museums and other attractions I wanted to see. I should have introduced myself in Turkish saying “I run this town” because that’s how I felt for the rest of the day. The restaurants were open, the merchants were out but I had already beat them to the streets. I had more time to appreciate the mosques upon seeing them for the second time and immerse myself in the details. I was not even bothered when several con men wasted thirty minutes of their time trying to get my to buy overpriced carpets under the guise that they wanted me to be a guest at their restaurant and serve me Turkish coffee.

Leisurely strolls are fine but running through a city gives you double the experience in half the time. It doesn’t have to be at the crack of dawn—it doesn’t even have to be a run most major cities have public bikes. The point is to cover as much ground as possible in an intimate way. Form a bond with your new surroundings by getting right into it.

Be smart about where you run though. As big and brave as I am there are some places in this world you just don’t casually run through in your neon-colored Nike Flyknits and Lulu Lemon (yes you). And if you get too carried away and go too hard just call an Uber. No one is going to play you for taking a short cut on cardio when you’re on vacation with your carry on.

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