Running has helped me in so many ways throughout my travels.
It has helped me get to know my new hometown. My brain and feet connect the scattered landmarks throughout the city and I feel safe and comfortable in my new environment. When I run in a city, I feel like I own the city. I run this town.
I've bonded with new friends about good areas to run, how fast (or in my case, slow) we run, strategies for training, what we eat before/during/after long runs, what we wear during each change of season... and this is all with gestures and broken English and broken Japanese!
I've met people at running events who I would have never met otherwise because we don't speak the same language, we live on different sides of town, and we have different occupations. We see each other at various running events over and over again and are sure to greet each other, catch up, and wish each other luck.
I've run with friends visiting or new to my town to give them a speedy by-foot tour of the city.
I explore new types of terrain in a town that I wouldn't have found by foot, bike, or bus. I sometimes run alongside a river, along the beach, up a mountain, through narrow alleyways, or up to the foot of temples and shrines hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There are times that I start to focus on speed/distance/time, but then I'm reminded by my favorite running partner to not think about it and just enjoy the run, wherever we may be. Brian and I brought our running shoes while travelling through Asia. Running makes me feel at home regardless of where I'm running: Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, California... Whenever I lace up my shoes and get moving, I feel free and in my own element.