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What I Loved About Running During My Vacation

 

When I left for Paris last week, I brought just a small carry-on suitcase and a tote bag. I’m always a light packer, but this trip was an especially difficult feat—in addition to jeans, sweaters, and shampoo, I had to squeeze in running shoes and tights, two dri-fit shirts, a workout hoodie, fleece gloves, and even a mini foam roller.

My Paris trip was already booked when I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. As I started training, though, I realized that skipping an entire week of running simply wouldn’t be an option—and neither would just doing a couple of quick runs while away (that’s my usual M.O.). On the other hand, I knew it wasn’t exactly realistic to expect myself to stick to the plan while on vacation—jet lag aside, I planned on my legs being way too tired from tons of walking to exercise practically every day. So I started my training plan 13 weeks before the race instead of 12, and stretched the workouts for weeks 4 and 5 over three weeks instead of two. (Learn more 9 Clever Ways To Make Your Vacation Healthier.)

We stayed by the Canal St. Martin, a hip up-and-coming neighborhood in northeast Paris, and I loved waking up early and running around our neighborhood and the canal with the locals (and stopping for croissants or a fresh baguette on the way home!). But the best run of the trip was a misty six-miler from our rented apartment to the Louvre, through the Jardin des Tuileries, and up the Champs-Elysees, and then back. Before the museums opened, the tourist sights were nearly empty. I had the parks practically to myself, shared mostly by fellow runners. When I passed a running group of French men who looked about my age, we waved to each other, an interaction that didn’t require any French language skills.

Initially, I wasn’t thrilled about having to do a long run while away, but it ended up being awesome. I even added some extra runs to my week because I enjoyed the ritual so much. Joining fellow runners, Parisian and tourist alike, made me feel like a part of the city in a way that, as a non-French speaker, I otherwise found difficult. And it gave me a reason to be in front of beautiful, historic buildings without hordes of other travelers surrounding me, interfering with my thoughts.

Another perk: burning off some of that French food! I try not to feel guilty about indulging on vacation—after all, tasting a cuisine is part of experiencing a new place. But I certainly didn’t mind that most mornings, I was burning calories before even starting the day. And when I stepped on the scale post-trip, it was at the same number it was before I left, despite indulging in tons of pastries, rich meals, and crepes while away. I’ll call that a win-win. (Feeling inspired to run on vacation? Add the 10 Best Marathons to Travel the World to your bucket list.)

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