How do I keep running in India?
March 4, 2013 4:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to India for two weeks, and am also training for a ten-miler. Help?

It's decently likely I will find myself in India for two weeks this month. However, I'm currently training for an April 7 10-miler, and I would like to keep running. A few points.

1. I will be in Delhi part of the time. Are there places to run outdoors? Indoors? I will be staying at a guest house, so no gym there.
2. I will be in 2-3 other cities, to be determined (illustrative examples: Darjeeling, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Pune). Will it be weird if I am running outside there?
3. How can I track my mileage? I've been using an iPhone app to map my run, but can't use 4G abroad. Is it time for a Garmin-thingy?
4. Any other tips / thoughts?
posted by quadrilaterals to Travel & Transportation around India (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
3. Cheaper than a Garmin, just buy a sim card when you arrive.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:13 PM on March 4, 2013

Assuming you have a general idea of what pace you run, it would be perfectly fine to estimate your distance by running for specified times. Lots of people train by time instead of distance anyhow.
posted by Lame_username at 4:19 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have been to India, but not the cities you mention. There are not lots of joggers running around, but there are lots of people out and about walking places. Nobody is going to stop you running (except some places may be too congested to move quickly), will people look at you as the weird white girl (a guess based on your profile info)? Maybe, but they're not going to stop you from running. I don't know if you'll get catcalled or anything, I am a man and would have felt fine jogging there.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2013

Do you know the location of your guesthouse?

In Vasant Vihar, Chanakya Puri and similar South Delhi neighbourhoods you get joggers at dawn and dusk. In Paharganj, not so much.
posted by infini at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2013

Proof of Indian residency is required to purchase a SIM. You'll need to have someone purchase one for you (illicitly), or buy something that doesn't require a cellular connection if you don't want to pay for international data charges. Your phone will speak 3G GSM in India just fine.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:39 PM on March 4, 2013

I don't know about iPhone, but I've been using the RunKeeper and Endomondo apps on a cheapo android with no data plan at all, that I got specifically for running. The GPS records my route, mileage, time, etc., and then when I connect it to a wireless network it overlays it on the map exactly as if I had been connected the whole time. It might be worth turning off the data on your iPhone for a test run (or drive, or walk, or whatever) to see if the same thing will work with your app/phone.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:48 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

1. You could jog in Lodi Gardens in Delhi. I've seen plenty of people doing so.

2. You'll have a hard time finding unbroken/unblocked pavements in a lot of cities. I can't speak to park space in the other cities you've named as I don't know them very well, but can you use a treadmill? If you stay at a fancy hotel (accustomed to western business travelers), there will usually be a gym available with cardio equipment.

Also, I suggest you post this question to the IndiaMike forums. There are subforums for almost all the cities you name there, and people will have more specific suggestions.
posted by artemisia at 4:54 PM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can probably pay to use the gym in nearby hotels.
posted by Kololo at 5:48 PM on March 4, 2013

Just noticed that someone mentioned you might be a woman? Would you reconsider your jogging clothes wrt their skimpiness and perhaps adapt with looser clothing with more coverage? I know I tend to go on about women's safety in New Delhi in AskMe but...
posted by infini at 5:48 PM on March 4, 2013

Yeah you don't actually need internet to record runs with runkeeper and the like, just GPS, which is "in" the phone and not part of the network. When you upload the run, it will turn the GPS coords into a map. I do this all the time - I use my old (data-less) phone to record kayaking trips.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2013

This is not my area of expertise but maybe try talking to expats to see what they think? I empathize - I was training for a marathon while visiting Prague one summer and I felt so weird running there. Maybe it was my area of the city but I felt like people were looking at me like I was crazy.
posted by kat518 at 6:25 PM on March 4, 2013

Response by poster: Just noticed that someone mentioned you might be a woman? Would you reconsider your jogging clothes wrt their skimpiness and perhaps adapt with looser clothing with more coverage? I know I tend to go on about women's safety in New Delhi in AskMe but...

I am a woman, and absolutely; any suggestions about what to wear - or if it'd be more acceptable to run inside - are appreciated. I normally run in mid-calf leggings and a loose t-shirt.

I do have protective co-workers and friends in town and will heed any advice.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:38 PM on March 4, 2013

There is the Delhi Runners group. It seems like a reasonably active site.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:57 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would suggest having a regular running route wherever you go, and of telling your peers your specific route. You said you were at a guest house in Delhi; is this in a university campus, such as IARI or University of Delhi or IIT Delhi? That could ease things quite a bit. The other option might be to talk to a gym nearby, or a five-star hotel near your guest-house if they have a gym.

Also, timing will be of utmost importance; with global warming and all that, Indian summers are starting earlier than before, so you'd have to think about when you go out for a jog. The Deccan (Nagpur and Pune in your context) is already pushing 35C, which wasn't how February's were. Also, in my experience, running on the roads in India is often considerably more difficult than the treadmill; lots of ups and downs, lots of stuff beneath your feet and so on. Darjeeling will be hilly and is higher than the plains; you'd have to adjust your workout accordingly.
posted by the cydonian at 3:14 AM on March 5, 2013

I just got back from Pune. My experience there is that I have occasionally seen people running on the road, but I think you need local knowledge of where to go and confidence to handle the traffic. Lots of broken pavements and people with stalls blocking the way. It is also getting very hot already as cydonian mentions.

Personally I use the hotel gym, and I think that's probably your best option - find a local gym and run on the treadmill.
posted by crocomancer at 4:41 AM on March 5, 2013

I'm Indian; spent two years in Delhi.

1. Definitely find some kind of park to run in, if only because the roads are atrocious anywhere that is not the old British-constructed area. Talk to expats or the people running the guesthouses you're staying in for advice. And if you can get day passes to nearby gyms, nothing like it. Shouldn't be too expensive, either.

2. Go early in the morning, before the heat can really start, and take a water bottle with you. Heat stroke is a very real danger, especially in Delhi. Twenty minutes in the sun is enough to lay you flat for hours, ime, and I'm used to it!

3. Calf-length running tracks and a loose t are fine, the baggier the tracks the better. If you can find places to run inside, I'd advise doing that, if only because it's going to be damned hot.
posted by Tamanna at 7:00 AM on March 5, 2013

As a woman you will have be extremely careful not to go running in deserted spots, or after it gets dark. Also do not follow the same route everyday, keep changing it. Regarding clothing you definitely should be conservatively dressed, no shorts or tight clothes, this will only attract unnecessary attention. Tell people where you are going-and stick to places where there are others around.
posted by pakora1 at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2013

Hmm, looks like with all our concerned advice, you might indeed be better off finding a gym or hotel that tends to be frequented by expats as well as locals.
posted by infini at 7:03 AM on March 8, 2013

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