Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Walking and Jogging in Merida

I have been an avid runner for almost my entire life. I played soccer all the way through college so it was a part of my training regimen before it became my main source of adult exercise. I have literally run thousands of miles in my lifetime so I am going to give you my personal feedback on a couple of  important variables to search out in order to continue in your exercise regimen here in Merida.

Location and Safety.  I find this to be the biggest challenge for those who move here to Merida and want to continue in their normal walking or running routines. I live in Montes De Ame and I have found a stretch of well paved undeveloped road that runs for a straight mile east and west. It sits directly between Colonia Montes de Ame and City Center Mall/Wal Mart just inside the Preferico on the northern side of town. The set up of this road is perfect for anyone because you can structure your walk or run to go various miles with no problem. It is almost like they built the street with that purpose in mind.

I can't speak for every area of the city but depending on where you move you are going to have to look for an area like I found that suits your needs. The area I am referring to is very safe. I often see dozens of people out walking after dark, including women an older couples. I don't think safety is an issue in that respect as far as crime. Safety from moving traffic is another issue altogether. When I was in college I was hit by a vehicle head on while out running one day. Fortunatley for me the vehicle had just moved from a stopped position and amazingly I was never knocked off my feet. But I will tell you that since then I have never trusted drivers when I am out jogging. You need to find an area that keeps you safely away from vehicles and other forms of transportation, especially city buses. The city bus drivers seem to drive faster than anyone. FYI. 
Estadio Salvador Alvarado

I have also noticed a few more areas of town that seem to be used quite a bit for walking/running. Estadio Salvador Alvarado is very much used by the locals for walking, running, playing basketball and other assorted activities. It is located on Calle 60 just south of Costco. I have never run there becaue of it's location and I also don't like to jog on tracks. I get bored and lose count of my mileage. But I do know that this facility is always hopping when the weather is good.

Paseo de Montejo is incredibly scenic and great for walking if you can make it accessible on a regular basis. It is more towards the center of town (Centro) so if you like to limit your driving then you probably wouldn't want to make the effort to get there for this reason. Others may feel differently. To me this stretch of road is a large component of what makes Merida so appealing. It's absolutely beautiful and historic in every way.

Paseo de Montejo
The Beach. The most enjoyable run I ever had was on the beach in Cozumel when I was 25 years old. Full on downpour of rain, cool and agressive winds, empty streets, sand, surf....It was awesome. I'll never forget it. You will see quite a few people taking walks or runs down the beach in Progresso or Chelem. It's a great place to get out and just go for it. All beaches are public domain so have at it.

Time of Day and Humidity. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my home state is Texas. I was born and raised in the northern part of the state where the climate ranges from very cold to extremely hot throughout the year. I always thought Texas had it's fair share of humidity until we moved to Merida and found out what humidity is all about. To me there is simply no way to describe it.

We did not have one good rainfall to speak of for the first five months of this year and yet it still felt humid every single day. This type of environment affects when and how much you can exercise outside, more so that in other parts of the world. I took a 3 week business trip to Texas back in July. It was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit almost every day I was there. And I still ran 4 or 5 times a week. In fact, compared to the Yucatan, the humidity felt so low to me in Texas after living in Merida for a year that I was able to tolerate the heat and run in it until at least 11AM every day.

You simply cannot do that in Merida from April to August. In fact, I find you also can't run on some days very early in the morning in those months because there is almost no wind to speak of. If you are going to walk and run in this humidity you have to have winds to offset the water loss that your body endures. I have discovered that there is a window between about 8:45 AM and 10:00 AM where the temps are lower and the winds are starting to whip up on most days. That is when you go run. Otherwise you need to wait until the cooler parts of the evenings from April through August because there is simply to much moisture in the air. 

This is also the first place I have ever lived where I carried water bottles with me while running. I freeze two water bottles the night before and I run with them in my hands. After about 2 miles they are completely melted and ready to consume. The downside to this is by the time I get home I am so soaked that I am ringing out my shirt and changing my clothes. It's simply that humid here.

As a side note, most colonias in Merida have their own parks. Small parks are a great place to walk but not so much for running. Parks here are smaller as compared to the U.S. Also, the Altabrisa area has some longer stretches of road with good side-walks for safety between their housing developments. I have noticed that around Altabrisa mall you will see some of what I am talking about, specifically to the west and north of that area.

Hope this helps.

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