Some people ask me if during our sabbatical I continue my arduous triathlon training. As a rule, this sabbatical year is meant to be a rest from our ordinary life, which for me includes tough training and doing Ironman competitions. Even if I wanted to go around this commitment, it would be challenging. Firstly, I do not carry my bike with me. Secondly, sometimes the conditions for long-distance swimming are not there like in Cairns, Australia, where the Coral Sea water was infested with extremely venomous box jellyfish and saltwater crocs. I did not see any daredavils going for a swim there.
The only sport of the three making up triathlon I can do regularly is running. Its beauty is its simplicity. Except for some space, you do not need anything to run, not even shoes. BTW, barefoot running is having its renaissance in the world these days.
I am glad to have maintained a reasonable discipline in my regular running excercises. Thanks to this I have covered so far around 2500 km more that the rest of my family … for free. Usually when we get to a new place I do a running reconnaissance of the area first. In this way I discover places worth visiting and distances between them. Sometimes I bump into other runners. The places where I have been running are quite diverse from picturesque national parks with abundant flora and fauna, arid deserts of Utah or Australia, pineapple fields of Honduras, peaceful meadows and forests of New Zealand to crowded metropolis like Manila, Sydney or Hanoi.
Sometimes my running stirs some excitement among the locals. This has been the case in Vietnam. Imagine such a scene: huge traffic of motorbikes and bikes with short and mostly dark-shade-clad people wearing dust masks moving in all possible directions; amid this “urban river” of traffic runs a white collossus wearing a bright yellow or orange t-shirt . It is quite an experience for me as well to be greeting many stall owners and waving back to bikers I usually overtake. The traffic in Vietnam moves at around 10-12 km/h. You can get faster to places by running.
A nice culmination point of my running trainings was successful participation in a marathon in New Zealand I wrote about in one of my earlier posts (link).
One could think that by not going to work daily it is easier to maintain training routine. Well, sometimes we have trouble accessing the water, so that I can shower after a run or do some laundry. Another time the weather is so scorching hot. Running in 35-40 C is no longer a pleasant experience. Besides, our journey around the world with our luggage is itself quite a physical effort. A family Ironman! If I am not mistaken, Blazej, a guy from a similar family of travelers lost well over 10 kg in one year. After a whole-day of travelling I often do not feel like doing anything. Even the following morning is tough to rise and start running somewhere. Finding an excuse just to lie down and do nothing is so easy . The challenge is only at the beginning and then it becomes, as always, a pleasure.
I have recently seen in HBR and interesting chart listing the activities making us happy. Exercising was second from the top, far ahead of sleeping, relaxing, eating or listening to the music. Guess what number 1 was ?
Writing about running across the world I want mention also the question of personal security. Except for Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, where everybody lives behind reels of barbed wire, nowhere else have I felt threatened in any way. In hindsight I admit that running alone through some national parks in North America because of likelihood of meeting a deadly bear was simply stupid. It is also not uncommon to meet stray dogs along the way. The more valiant ones after getting tired of barking usually give up running after me.
There is also a social aspect of running through unknown places. I happened to visit a few times people’s places where I asked for some water during a long run in the heat. Through such visits my runs would sometimes get a bit longer. It was difficult to cut an interesting conversation short . Unfortunately in those rare cases Ania would worry about my late coming back .
I mention running to you also to once again encourage you to get some more exercise. In the same research published in HBR I found another interesting fact. Our happiness is enhanced more through the frequency of pleasant activities rather than their intensity. In another words, small positive things matter more that fewer big events.
I cannot wait to get on my running skies and run in Jakuszyce and Wroclaw.
BTW, we have been reading recently about very low temperatures in Europe. It is such a contrast to the heat of South-East Asia.