Disclaimer: When reading this post you’re going to want to picture a beautiful woman that speedily runs along a sandy beach showing off her barely there tummy in a cute little tank top… That’s not me. I’m the one this sporty lady just passed… Yes, that sweaty mess bundled up in layers of clothes including a skiing headband and gloves… The one that’s barely moving forward… yep, that one’s me.
I love to eat as you might have gathered from my slew of food posts lately covering trip food like Christmas market foods in Germany, the braised pork belly we had in China, and the Texas waffles we’ve been feasting on at home. When we are at home, I generally try to follow a somewhat healthy diet and work out fairly often, so I can indulge in the less healthy, but delicious foods Texas has to offer without too bad of a conscience. All the working out used to stop abruptly the second we went on a trip. The indulging only increased since… well, who wants to watch what they eat when on the road?! Lately, we’ve done one month-long summer trip and one month-long winter trip a year and I used to come home with about 2-3 kilos extras after each. And I’m not talking about the goodies and souvenirs I stuffed in my luggage here… You know how people always tell you that all the walking while sightseeing makes up for the extra food? Not true! So not true!
The problem isn’t that I don’t like working out. I actually enjoy it on most days… the problem on trips was that none of the workouts I would usually do at home were decent travel workouts. And I’m not workout-crazy enough to try and find a fitness studio that offers Zumba courses while I am on the road. Lately though, more and more of my friends have started to get into running. Running, as in the running I used to despise in high school when I couldn’t even run one lap around the dreaded track during gym class. Boy, did I used to hate summer when the fun workouts from winter gym class like volleyball or basketball or other fun games like that moved outside and we started doing track and field athletics. I hated it with a passion! But I digress… after years of expat life and always trying to lose weight after long trips around the world visiting family and friends, and never quite losing all the trip weight again, I was fed up.
I needed something that would easily translate into a workout on the road. So last May I decided to give running a shot. I just wanted one workout that I could easily do anywhere while travelling. I figured it probably wasn’t a good idea to start with the whole running business on a trip. So, very, very slowly and usually in a very bad mood I’d step on the treadmill about once a week to run two minutes/walk two minutes for about thirty minutes total. I slowly increased the increments over two or three months up to a point where I was able to run for twenty minutes. You have no idea how proud I was of myself. Mind you, I still hated every minute of it – even if I got better at timing my treadmill time to TV shows I liked. The time just wouldn’t pass. By August, the first long trip rolled around and I actually managed to run about twice a week and found myself enjoying being able to see the places we were visiting in a whole new light. I actually managed to run for 30 minutes straight! In Italy, it was so hot in August, yet I enjoyed running by the golf course and listening to the cicale (crickets) in the pine forest. In Germany, my home country, I noticed once again how beautiful all our forests are and how green everything is as I ran through the places I grew up in. In London, I caught a cold, so no running there, but I saw all the local runners speeding along the Thames and thought how fun that would be to feel like a part of them.. Don’t get me wrong, the running was fine and all, but I enjoyed all the pizza, pasta, potatoes, and sweets I could eat on that trip with a much better conscience even more 🙂
When we got back from that trip, I started running outside in Texas about once a week as well – just to keep it up and be able to do it on future trips without being horribly sore because my body forgot how to do it. Since it’s always similar routes and there’s much less new stuff to see, it does get kind of boring. I have found though that if I listen to some new silly pop songs with a good beat, I can do it. By the time Christmas rolled around, I packed my running shoes and some workout pants and was almost looking forward to discovering all the new places while running. And while some runs were more for the workout than for the sights, I did enjoy the novelty of the different places and all the food I could eat without my pants getting tighter and tighter as the trip progressed. I ran in a park in Cologne and got that feeling of blending in with the local runners. I ran in a forest outside of Cologne and enjoyed the green and fresh air of my hometown. I ran in the South China Botanical Garden in China. How cool is that?! I also got a cool new Android phone in China and downloaded a free app called RunKeeper that maps your runs. So, when we got to France and I ran at the beaches, I could actually look at my exact routes on the computer later. So much fun! And you know what? Despite all of my pigging out for five weeks, I only gained a pound and that was gone the following week.
Since it worked so well for me, I decided to share my experience with you guys. Maybe I can turn one of you non-runners into a runner as well? I’ve really turned a corner and think running is probably one of the best workouts on the road. You don’t need to add lots of weight to your luggage since you really only need some decent shoes and a pair of workout pants. You can do it anywhere. You get to experience life as a local a little more. You get to see a different side of the places you are visiting. And, let’s not forget, you get to eat without a bad conscience and sample more of the delicious local food of your destinations 🙂
So, instead of only showing you all the food I ate on my trips, I decided to also share some of my best running routes from my trips. New series anybody? I’ll call it “Workout on the Road: Running”. I’m already gathering some pics for you and in a few days I’ll post the first one about the South China Botanical Garden.
In the meantime, do you have a good travel workout? Something that translates well into a workout on the road? Have you run in cool places? Let me know, because who knows, maybe one of my next trips takes me there and I could go for a run!
Here’s a few pics of what I see when running in Texas. Not terrible, but way less fun than my trip runs.
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