I could almost title this entry “running around” as busy as we typically are, but instead I’ll focus on what it’s like being a runner in France (Toulouse to be specific). I’m inspired by the fact that we signed up for our first 5K in Toulouse. This coming Sunday, we’ll be joining hundreds of other runners in the “happiest 5K” (a.k.a the Color me Rad 5K). We’ll traverse 3.1 miles through the city, getting blasted with “color bombs” along the way.
We used to run a lot in Atlanta, but got a little less rigorous in our routine leading up to and after we moved. It took us a few months after we settled in France to get back to it, but we’ve once again worked up to a 5K (and have started our 10K training).
Over the course of our training, I’ve made some observations about running in France—the good, the bad and the ugly. Here they are, in no particular order.
Runner-Friendly Paths-This is definitely the “good”. Toulouse is very pedestrian-friendly and has lots of sidewalks. Plus, we live right across from the running/walking path that winds its way along the Canal du Midi. This path is pretty much a runner’s paradise. It stretches for 250km from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, giving you just enough distance to run for as long or as little short as you want. It’s lined with trees, so even on hot days there is plenty of shade and the path dips below bridges at intersections in the road so you never have to worry about traffic.
Scenery-This also falls into the “good” category. I mean, we live in France! Running through the city, you can get great views of beautiful old architecture and balcony gardens (as well remind yourself why you are running as you inhale whiffs of bread baking at the boulangeries). Running along the Canal provides gorgeous sights like this:
Weather-Since we’ve arrived, the weather in Toulouse has been pretty runner-friendly. There were definitely some very hot days in the middle of summer, but the mornings were cool enough to get in a comfortable run. Now the weather is perfect and the changing leaves only add to the beautiful scenery mentioned above. I’m not sure what winter will bring, but rumor has it Toulouse can get a bit chilly and windy. Still, we’re enjoying it while we can!
Races-There seem to be plenty of road races to choose from in France (like this one in Bordeaux that I wish I’d learned about in time to sign up!), but you have to plan well because many require a doctor’s note for registration. Though a bit frustrating when we don’t have the option to commit to races until the very last minute, it does make sense. Fortunately, this weekend’s race is a “fun run” so we are free to run at our own risk!
Obstacles— Not everything can be hunky-dory, right? If I had to pinpoint the bad it would be the bikes and dog poop (along with the occasional human excrement). Yes, I said human excrement. In France, it is not as compulsory to clean up after your dogs as it is in the U.S., so turd dodging is a key part of a runner’s life here. More than once we’ve also seen piles that were clearly human. Your head has to be on a bit of a swivel as you run here because, as you are dancing around the poop, you also have to watch for cyclists. As much as I love that bike riding is a bit part of the culture here, but I’m also surprised neither of us have been hit by a speedy cyclist from behind.
So there you have it—running in France (a least as I’ve experienced it). Have any of your own French running experiences to share? Please post them in the comments.