How traveling made me a runner

Holidays are a great time to try new foods, relax and indulge yourself. In the first couple months of my year away, I did just that.

In Italy it was pasta, in France it was the cheese, in Poland it was the potato perogies; Germany the beer, Austria the desserts, and Hungary the goulash. In England, almost everything is stodge. By the time I reached the Greek islands, relishing the idea of spending my days soaking in the sun on the beach, I peeled off the layers of clothing to find I was fast on the way to becoming a heffalump.

Attacking a full rack of BBQ ribs in the USA

Attacking a full rack of BBQ ribs in the USA

I believe when you’re experiencing new cultures, an important part of the journey is trying the new and different foods. You don’t want to be worrying about eating enough fruits and vegetables, or how many calories are in that sachertorte you just had in Vienna. I mean, you may never get the chance to try these delicious treats again, right?

Yes, well, that reasoning is fine and dandy when you’re just travelling for a few weeks and your gym membership is waiting for you at home. But I still had a whole year of travelling to do. I just couldn’t keep this up and still fit into my jeans. So I started thinking – how could I actually have that scrumptious pastry sitting in the shop window and eat it without regretting it?

Irresistible selections in southern France

Irresistible selections in southern France

I needed a form of exercise I could take with me wherever in the world I went. Walking around all day was just not enough – especially when you’re eating tasty morsels while walking and seeing the sights. I wanted to be able to just eat what I wanted while travelling.  Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a a quest to lose weight or get the perfect beach body; I just wanted to maintain my size as I ate my way across the world.

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I was hanging out on the sun kissed rocks and warm turquoise waters on the island of Hvar in Croatia when I decided that I should start running. I didn’t have any of the proper gear with me, so I just threw on a pair of shorts, a singlet and my hiking shoes and went for it.

It started as “okay Jude, just walk and run as much as you can 20 minutes. You can do this!”. I did that every second day for the next 3 weeks through southern Europe. I ended up with a sprained muscle in the arch of my foot (learn from this kids, wear proper footwear), but I had stayed consistent and reaped all the other benefits from running – more energy, self confidence and happy endorphins. I was hooked.

This is not me - but looks like some of the sights I saw while running

This is not me – but looks like some of the sights I saw while running

My plan worked; I started running across the world. It was a great way to explore each new place I got to, I could keep wearing my travel wardrobe, and I tried all the delectable treats I wanted. I ran in the heat of Utah and the snows of Canada; along the coast and in the mountains. It was a fantastic experience, and I still keep it up today.

If you’re planning a long trip away from home, I definitely recommend packing some running shoes and giving it a go. You don’t need to the best at it, but you’ll benefit from that extra bit of cardio. Don’t deny your taste buds – have a guilt-free culinary journey!

Lets hope you don't find yourself in this situation!

Learning to run might have some survival benefits too!

 

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