At Foto Ruta Buenos Aires, we’re of the running kind. In fact many of the ways I’ve discovered new and fascinating places to take clients to photograph during Foto Ruta Academia is by stumbling upon them on an early morning run…okay, not that early but before 9am. But really, whether you’re training for a marathon or just trying to burn off the many chorizos you ate just hours before, running is a great way to see new parts of the city, just as is photography, and often one can lead to the other.
That being said, like photographing in Buenos Aires, running routes here aren’t an obvious get-to for the newcomer. Yes, we’ll admit. The climate is close to perfect, and if you’re looking to avoid jogging up steep San Fransisco-like hills, you’ve come to the right place. However, as an avid runner of 15 years, urban running is a different sport altogether from what many visitors may be used to.
Buenos Aires is…big ( 13 million to be exact ), there are a LOT of crazy drivers, and navigating your way along bumpy cobblestone streets who’s names change every few blocks is a tough job even for your GPS. So, here’s Foto Ruta’s “get-tough” guide to running in Buenos Aires
Warning: some vulgar language may be included in this post.
Take advantage of car-free areas of the city
The Bosques de Palermo, Puerto Madero, and La Reserva Naturalesa are probably the best 3 locations to run long periods at a time in Buenos Aires without getting hit by a car. Anywhere else. You take your risks. Period. The bosque has over 25 hectares of lakes, flowers, trails and even kiosks to stop at and top-up on water. The ultra-modern Puerto Madero has a nice 4km car free loop and is likely the least densly populated area of the city. Running here really allows you to breath. Similarly, the nature reserve in Costenera Sur has a lovely 10km wood-chipped trail loop that really allows you to feel away from it all, but still be in the city. All three places are only a subway or bus ride from wherever you are in the city.
Ignore people and be assertive
Buenos Aires has a lively street life and at any given moment of the day you can get into conversation with a total stranger and download their entire life in about 8 minutes. But here’s the thing. You’re out for a run, you want to work-out, get some exercise, so you’re going to have to be pushy when it comes to not engaging in conversation. One excellent way to do this is to simply run to a beat with your ipod or mp3 device so you block out the conversation. A second way to do this is to pretend you don’t understand or hear the 3 dudes talking in your face at every intersection asking you where you’re from, where you’re going to, and if you like to go dancing on fridays. A third way is simply just to be rude and say “estoy corriendo, no quiero hablar” ( I’m running, I don’t want to talk ) and continue on. Either way, don’t be afraid to be pushy so you can enjoy your time running. It’s sacred.
Be aware of dog shit and loose pavement
One of the great things about having a dog in Buenos Aires is that you don’t have to pick up its shit. One of the worst thing about being a runner in Buenos Aires is that you’re inevitably going to step in it. How to get around this? Think like a trail-runner. Keep your eyes downward for these crispy little piles of poo and switch up your running rhythm accordingly to avoid them best you can. If you do step in crap, feel free to curse loudly “La puta madre! Que mierda es eso!!” wipe it on the edge of the side-walk and continue on. Similarly to loose pavement stones waiting to twist your ankle, new-age minimalist running shoes are not the best for urban running in Buenos Aires. ( Sorry bare-footers, I love you too, but this isn’t Yosimite park, California.) Choose something with a bit of foot-stability so that you don’t punch a nail through your heel or stub your toe on a random piece of rail that was discarded from the track.
If you have a running partner, make sure they’re not a pussy.
Okay, I know that sounds harsh. But listen people: This isn’t about finding someone to pace you or chat with about how he still hasn’t called you after last Saturday night. You want that, stick to the treadmill and a personal trainer. A lot of the experience of running in Buenos Aires has to do with your acute navigation skills and ability to maneuver. So if you’re out for a jog with someone who hesitates before they cross the street even when the light is green, won’t pass baby strollers by getting a bit pushy, talks too much, or feels badly about flipping the bird to on-coming traffic, you need to reconsider your company. These people will frustrate you and also put your life at risk on busy streets. I’ve only had 3 consistent running partners in my life and they were all much bigger bitches than I am with good reason. The best advice we can give: Find a running partner with balls…or at least tell them that if they’re going to run with you… they better grow a pair.
Waterproof Sunscreen & Sunglasses
If you run in Buenos Aires you’d better find some pleasure in that nice ” heat pain” while sweating it up in +30 degree temperatures. It’s gives “The Burning Man” a whole new meaning. And you’ll enjoy the tandem experience of getting a tan and burning calories at the same time for over 6 months a year…until you head out for a longer one and come back with skin cancer. Here’s a little secret: Buenos Aires has no ozone layer. That big withering section in the ozone is strategically positioned right over the city for a good portion of the year, so get your sunscreen out and make sure it’s the A-grade stuff. Melanoma sucks. Wear sunglasses as well, botox has also gone up in price with inflation. And in Buenos Aires, you’re expected to stay young looking forever.
Join a Running Group or enter a race to provide forced motivation
If you’re here in the city for a longer period of time and find the many late nights of Fernet and Coca-Cola have left you with little motivation to run, consider pressuring yourself into it by joining a running group of the coordinated t-shirt kind. What do I mean? Nike and Adidas have several running groups that meet 2-3 times weekly and give you florescent colored shirts while doing intervals up and down Avenida Libertador with a run-leader who blows a whistle! It’s just like gym class when you’re 13 but this time you’re hung-over. What could be better?!!
Wear your a-game running wardrobe
Buenos Aires is full of beautiful people who care about their appearance even when they sweat. As a local this is something to be proud of and as a visitor (unless you’re a trust-fund gym bunny ) you should step it up with good running digs. For women, cotton t-shirts are a NO and for men with hairy legs ball-hugging running shorts are offensive. Instead, women can try clevage revealing multi-sport tops and hot shorts if you can pull them off. If you can’t then a nice pair of athletic draw strings will allow you to hike them up far enough to show some leg but still hide the wobbly bits. For men a singlet or going shirtless ( if you’ve got abs ) is fine in the parks and a breathable athletic shirt will suffice for street running. If Futbol jerseys are worn they should support local or European teams, not Chile or England. Either way, look in the mirror before you head out the door and then spend at least 30 more seconds more trying to look better. You’ll fit right in.
Run at night in well-lit, busy places
To some the concept of running in the dark in a south-american country is on par with stupid. These people are wrong. Buenos Aires is a very noctural city and you can regularly witness women power-walking around Plaza San Martin near midnight and swarms of bootcampers doing cardio in la Bosque at 10pm 5 nights a week. The dark is not your enemy as a runner and sometimes it’s the best temperature of the day to run. If someone wants to approach you in a suspicious way, the only thing they could really jack are your running shoes covered in dog shit and if you are running and they’re not, then you can likely run faster. If you’re going to run at night it’s best to stick to barrio norte ( Belgrano, Palermo, Las Canitas, Recoleta, Centro ) but use your own judgement. Just make sure you look good while doing it.