What to do when the sandbox is too small


The world is a sandbox“. That is my motto. However, one should know where to play in the sandbox, or better where it is good for jogging and where it is definitely not. And what do we joggers do when there is insufficient space or when it seems too dangerous to run in the streets?

During my last 25 years I have been on hundreds of business trips, and I often visited cities where it is not tempting at all to run through the streets. It simply seemed too risky or too narrow or too inconvenient. In Houston for example there are hardly any pavements, everybody uses the car everywhere. Pedestrians and joggers are rare species and are exposed to high risk when they try to mingle with the car traffic. In Moscow there are pavements, but the busy and crowded Russian capital with 11-million citizens does not really seem to invite joggers to execute their hobby, in particular not in the winter when temperatures are freezing cold. Abu Dhabi on the other hand is simply too hot for running, even in early morning or late evening one faces high humidity and temperatures beyond 40 °C during the summer months.

These and others are probably the reasons that the treadmills for joggers have become so popular. They are frequently found in the gyms in the business hotels. I must admit however that I find these treadmills extraordinary boring, and I hence rarely put my feet on them. Because there are a number of good alternatives which I have refined over the years and which I will now share with you.

Some years back, I was in Singapore, arriving late evening in my hotel which was a multi-storey building with more than twenty floors. The hotel surroundings did not really offer many opportunities for joggers, so I asked if I may be allowed to exercise on the roof. The receptionist smiled and confirmed. Consequently I did thirty laps on the roof just before midnight, high above the street of Singapore City and only the stars were above me. It was wonderful and indeed unforgettable.

When I were offshore, on a pipeline construction vessel or on a production platform, then the helideck proved to be a reasonable alternative to the treadmill in the gym. Helidecks are small, correct, but still better for jogging than a boring treadmill, and the view and the fresh air you get up there is a multiple better. Please keep your eyes on the ground not to step over the edge, because then you will find yourself in the safety net as the best case, or in the water 60m below as the worst case.

The stairways in high buildings offer another good alternative to the treadmill in the gym. The stairs are usually used as emergency exit only, and therefore practically always empty. I run up and down and nobody disturbs me.

And when I am not on a business trip, like just now when I am on a cruise with my wife in the Caribbean Sea, then the ship promenade deck offers a beautiful option for us joggers. The Caribbean Sea is a bit humid and hot, but the view and the salty breeze when you do your laps more than compensates this disadvantage. It is actually a fantastic way to exercise.

So, when you have the feeling that the sandbox where you are is too small or too hazardous for jogging, then use your imagination. There is always an alternative. See you in the stairway or on the helideck!

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