Part 2: Running in Paris

I ran 3 times in the 5 days we were in Paris and each run was better than the last.

If I needed any motivation to run, that was easy – I didn’t want to gain 20lbs on vacation.  And I probably would have considering that this was my usual breakfast:

Pain au Chocolat: buttery chocolatey heaven

And I usually ended my day with one of these:

A delicious nutella crepe

And if you read my first post on Paris, you know I did a whole lot more eating in between!

My first run was meant to be 3 miles, but guess what happened.  I got lost.  Me, the one who was all, “I’m not worried about getting lost because I know my way around the city, blah blah blah.”  I wasn’t actually lost, but I missed my turn to cross the Seine and get back to the hotel so I ended up running a little too far, getting turned around and then finding my way again.  I ended up running 4 miles in 38:25 which was a good time for me.  Can I blame getting lost on the jet lag, please? :)

First run in Paris - an amazing view!

My second run was better.  I paid more attention to where I was going and stuck to basic route down the Seine 2 miles and back.  It was windy, cloudy and cool which was perfect running weather.  And I didn’t get lost! Go me! Even better than that, I ran 4 miles in 37:17.  Another great time for me especially considering that my legs were feeling a little tired from all the walking we had been doing.

Another pretty run in Paris

My last run in Paris was fan-freaking-tastic.  Are you ready for this? I ran 4 miles in 35:57.  That would be an average pace of 8:58.  I never run at that pace, but I somehow maintained that for 4 miles.  Wahoo! So I can run faster.  I’m very excited about this.  I think the cool weather and flat terrain most definitely allowed me to have such a great run.  The beautiful scenery helped too!

I probably made it pretty obvious I was a tourist by stopping to snap so many pictures

Beautiful Notre Dame in the distance

I so miss that view!

Here are some of my observations about running in Paris:

  • As I just mentioned, the terrain is mostly flat, especially where I usually ran.  It is also very straight running along the Seine which helped me keep moving quicker.  I saw a lot of runners so I think that is a very common area to run.
  • There is a lack of fresh air when you’re running (encountered the same problem in Rome).  There are tons of cars, even early in the morning which means a steady stream of exhaust flowing into your lungs.  Also, many people smoke and chances are you that you will pass a few smokers during a run and get a lungful of secondhand smoke.  There are also the unpleasant smells, especially along the Seine.  A good bit of homeless people sleep along the sidewalk there.  Getting a whiff of urine or something worse is not fun!
  • It’s a busy city which means stopping frequently to cross the street.  Cars, quite honestly, seem like they want to hit pedestrians, so you better be careful when you cross the street

Frequent stops

  • Being a woman running alone, men had no problem stopping whatever they were doing to stare at me as I ran by.  I occasionally get some looks when I run in my neighborhood from the construction guys or men in cars driving by, but men here can be a little bit more subtle.  Not so much in Europe (Rome was even worse!).  The men emptying the garbage cans on the street would always completely stop what they were doing and just stare.  I actually found it pretty humorous.  One man said, “bon courage” (which means “good luck”) to me while I ran along with a sly little smile.  Fun times.
  • If you plan to run in Paris, you must start early.  I read something on Runner’s World (which I can’t seem to find again) about how you should finish your run in Paris by 8:30am because it gets busy by then.  I’d say, you actually should finish by 7am at the latest.  The sidewalks and streets get so crowded that getting out there as early as you can is for the best.


This is what it looked like around 6am looking out our hotel room window - perfect time to head out for a run

And this is what it typically looked like during the day - not a good time to try to run!

  • Don’t say hello.  When I run in my neighborhood, I usually say a friendly hello or good morning to anyone I pass.  You don’t do that in Paris.  You can, but I wouldn’t do as a woman running alone.  Saying hello to a man in particular can be a bit of an invitation, if you know what I’m saying ;).  Hubby did say some bonjours during his runs though because he’s just so darn friendly.  The men usually said bonjour back, but he said the women did not respond or looked away, haha!
  • Summertime running is still cool.  We had great weather during our trip.  It was usually about a high of 75 degrees everyday.  The low was generally in the mid-50s.  When we ran, it was usually about 55 degrees which was a pleasure to run in.  I really missed that weather when I ran 5 miles with Zain this morning and it was 75 degrees with 91% humidity at 7am.
  • The sidewalk along the Seine where I generally ran would have been great for the jogging stroller.  It made me miss having Zain with me to run! However, I didn’t see anyone running with their kids.  Granted, I only ran 3 times and in one small area so I could have just missed the running parents.  I actually did not see anyone with a jogging stroller at all in the city.  In the US, people use joggers as their regular strollers all the time, but even though we saw many strollers, we didn’t see any joggers.  The only time I saw a one was when we saw an American couple pushing their son in one.  I said to hubby, “look, there’s a BOB!” It was funny because the stroller looked so huge after only seeing umbrella-type strollers in the city.

You may be wondering why I didn’t run my 12 miles I had planned to do in the city.  I ended up changing my game plan for a few reasons.  For one, if I was going to get up and run for 2 hours and still make it back in time for hubby to run at a decent hour, I’d be running alone in the city in the dark.  I didn’t really feel comfortable doing that.  If I started later, I’d be dodging people on the sidewalk the whole time and not having an enjoyable run.  The biggest reason though was that I didn’t want hubby to have to do his long run alone when we got to Rome.  Neither of us knew our way around Rome and I thought it would be better if I could run with him (the grandparents met us there and watched Z while we ran).  It was definitely for the best because we got majorly lost, but I’ll tell you all about that adventure another time :).

Next up, our time in Rome…check back again soon!

Happy running!


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