Running Across Europe
When I told friends I would be backpacking across Europe for nearly four months, everyone assumed I would quit running. No way. My running sneakers were one of the few precious items I put in my pack. As much as I despised wearing them for everyday use (something I don’t do back home, and I dreaded looking like a typical American with white sneakers), I packed them along with running clothes (which, when clean, doubled as pajamas).
I’ve been running for thirteen years, and wouldn’t give up running for four months. No way. I halted serious training and speed workouts-November’s New York City Marathon would be out-and I decided I would run only when I had time. The insanity of traveling often made running impossible at times-night trains, lack of sleep due to noisy roommates, cold weather (for which I was not prepared in my running clothes), and early departures all prevented me from running. When I could though, my alarm would buzz while my roommates were sleeping their hangovers off, and I would slide into my sneakers, off to explore yet another city on my run.
Continuing what you do and love back home is very important. Running provides me with a time and place to explore and examine my thoughts-for me, running is very meditative. When traveling, running also provides me with an additional opportunity to explore each new place.
Running is a time for adventures as well. When running in Prague, I got so lost, a Czech woman walked me back to my hostel. In Stockholm, a man exposed himself to me twice in Djurgarden, a beautiful Swedish park. I found solace with a Swedish woman who called the police for me-who interrogated the man, with everything tucked in his pants where it belonged. In Vienna, I met an Austrian runner who adored Price and Madonna, and ran 6:45 miles on his long legs, which I struggled to keep up with him during.
So yes, I ran across Europe. I ran through the royal gardens of Vienna, along the Seine in Paris, over the Thames in London, through the hilly, dry parks of Prague, around Lake Brienz in Interlaken, over where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Running gave me a new perspective-I saw shops, galleries, and people in places I wouldn’t have had the time to otherwise explore. Although I was running, if something was worth it, I’d pause on my run to enjoy whatever exciting Europe experience I was to have.