(Sorry, guys... forgot to upload all my pictures to my computer, so this is a text-only blog post. Stay tuned for more pictures soon, I promise!)
One constant for me on this vacation has been going for a run, wherever I am. I signed up to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon at the beginning of November. Not long after pressing the accept button to process the payment for the race, I sat, scouring the internet for the best training program. In my previous marathons, I trained using the Hal Higdon training plans. They’re spectacular, especially for beginners, and if you’re thinking of doing a marathon (or half-marathon, or 10K or 5K), I’d highly recommend them. I’d been hearing a lot about a new training plan, though, and decided I’d give it a shot. So at the beginning of July, I started out on the Hanson’s marathon training plan.
I didn’t really think about the fact that I’d have to find a way to fit in my training while traveling. To be honest, I really haven’t had a good track record of exercising on vacation. I might have good intentions and make resolutions to run on vacation, but then an early morning flight or hot weather or the lure of delicious food or the attraction of staying in bed longer always derails my efforts.
But I don’t think I’ve taken an extended vacation while training for a marathon before.
Marathon training, for me, has become something to be taken way too seriously. I read everything I can about the best way to do this or that or the best gear or nutrition or whatever. I read blogs and forums and magazines. I geek out, marathon-running style.
Given all this, there was no way I wouldn’t run during my vacation. I’m in the midst of traveling for more than a month. No way I’m going to be able to not run for that long. Additionally, sleeping in a tent for the better part of this journey through very northern countries in the summer means that I’m up early (not quite with the sun, since the sun has been rising at between 4-5am in a lot of the places I've been).
So I get up and I run. I run past ruins, past ancient castles and buildings. I run past war monuments and city parks. I see birds and foxes and rabbits and drunken Norwegians, stumbling back to their hostels. I see the cities I visit coming awake, coming to life. I smell the bread being baked and the fresh air off the water. And never have I been more thankful to a pastime.
I don’t know how many of you reading this run. It’s not a sport that everyone can do or likes to do. But I do hope that all of you at some point this summer will go out and run, walk or cycle through a city you don’t know well. Go out and explore while the locals are still sleeping. Don’t worry about getting lost—just bring enough money for bus/metro/cab fare back to your starting point if you get too far off track. You don’t have to go fast or far, but you do have to go. The focus is just on the act of getting yourself moving with no intent other than to be grateful for motion and the chance to soak in a new environment .
As the years go by, I find myself becoming more and more dedicated to running, not because I’ll ever be a great runner, but because running gives me so much in return for my measly 30 minutes or so of time each day. Thanks, running!