Monday, 10 October 2011

Italian Expose Part 2: Fitness

Running in Florence
So before I left I wrote a post about running on vacation. Should I do it? Or should I just throw caution to the wind, embrace the word vacation and leave running and all of my usual routine behind? Well folks I packed my sneakers and took the plunge...2 whole times (ha!).

I gave running some thought in Rome, and definitely looked lovingly at my sneakers a few times. But Rome is crazy busy (both traffic-wise and pedestrian-wise) and a bit of a labyrinth. The streets do not run in a straight line and I really struggled to get my bearings. I spent the first 3 days attempting to navigate the city; ending up lost more times then I would like to admit, and spending way too much time trying to figure out how to safely cross the road. I admit I just was not comfortable running in Rome. And I don't think I was the only one, because running culture wasn't very prevalent there. I saw 2 runners while I was there, and both of them outside the city center. People seemed to run only in the parks and trails, so needless to say the sneakers stayed packed in my bag while we were in Rome.

At our next stop, the sleepy little lake-side town of Varenna up in Lake Como, the cobble stone streets and very minimal traffic made for a good running location. But by the time we arrived I was beat! We had done a lot of walking since the minute we landed in Italy. Our feet were our primary mode of transportation, and they were used a ton. I wish I brought a pedometer with me so I could give you all accurate stats, but I would guess we were averaging anywhere between 10-15km each day. Not to mention my husband's obsession with climbing any available ridiculous high tower or basilica. I am not a climber and have pretty serious fear of heights. But I definitely gave it a whirl and climbed the old dizzying, swirling staircases, hanging on to the rope "railings for dear life to see the city-scapes from the top of locations like St. Peter's and the Duomo. It was worth the climb, but all that climbing and trekking combined with jet-lag left my motivation to lace up my sneaks at an all time low. So I just spent the time we had in Varenna relaxing - guilt-free!

Climbing St. Peter's  with gritted teeth
I didn't end up busting out the sneakers until Florence, and I have to admit when I finally did I really enjoyed it. Florence is actually an ideal running location and the running culture is really prevalent. Traffic is pretty minimal, the city is easier navigated, and the sights are amazing!  Runners were a regular fixture on the narrow cobblestone streets at all times during the day. The roads next to the river were popular routes for running, and it was great to join the all the local runners out early in the morning, taking in the views as the sun came up over the river. Running in Florence was a whole other animal. As I ran past the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi gallery, and the countless awe-inspiring churches I was taken aback by these unconventional views. These were not the views I was used to taking in on my morning runs in Toronto. It was amazing, and it inspired me to keep going. Pushing on to see more sights and keep running. These runs were worth the wait, and I am so glad I made space in my little backpack for my running gear!

Biking around Lucca
 I think between trekking around our 3 Italian locations, climbing to the top of several basilicas, interspersed with a few runs, and a bike riding tour around Lucca I definitely got my fitness quota in while I was away. While it was not my typically hyper-scheduled kind of exercise I was able to sneakily get my fitness in while still enjoying the sights and time with my husband. My tight guess "jeggings" still fit when I hopped on a plane to return to Canada, which I took as a positive sign because they are the pair I dub my "skinny jeans". And while I am not real big on being a slave to the scale; I was pleasantly surprised to find I returned weighing the same as when I left. So despite taking in extra calories with all of the delicious Italian treats readily at my fingertips over the two weeks I was away, it came out in the wash. And I was able to return feeling refreshed, restored, and relatively fit. Its a win, win! 

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,