A Week Of Fitness In Greece

 

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View from our sunrise run in Athens

Before going on any vacation abroad I always get anxiety about fitness. Call me crazy, I know, vacation is about rest, relaxation, and getting away from your normal routine. The problem is exercise is a way for me to rest, unwind, relax, and frankly is just how I like to start my day. I travel enough within the states that it has become easy to figure out ways to incorporate fitness in. You can almost always find a gym somewhere or if you are lucky enough a new studio is close by to try out. Every now and again I can end up in the middle of no where and that’s when lacing up my sneakers and going for a run works perfectly.

I have found this does not hold true for foreign countries though. Europeans for example are active in many other ways outside of the typical treadmill run or spinning class. They walk everywhere, take the stairs, and just live a balanced life of moderation. This is a cultural way of life I envy and try to embody for myself when I happen to be on the other side of the ocean.

This leads me into my most recent vacation, a 10-day trip to Greece. Even though I was worried about finding my way with fitness, I just pushed myself to find my own routine abroad and enjoy a change of pace from my normal workout regime at home. So how did I incorporate fitness into my day to day?  Well it was a lot of walking, running, and moving. In fact in 10 days I had over 215k steps. This is about 108 miles to be exact. Although this is a lot of steps, my workout intensity was less then what it usually is. Instead of pushing my muscles to a point of exhaustion, I did lower intensity runs half of the time in order to make sure my muscles had the stamina to walk everywhere my heart desired.

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Viewing Athens after our first morning run

The 10 day trip was spread out over 3 different places in Greece; Athens, Crete, and Santorini. First up was Athens for 2 days. Dustin and I went on 2 morning runs for our daily workout. In total we probably ran about 4-5 miles each day, but stopped and walked to explore as we went. The first day we ran all around the Acropolis, dodging and diving tourists as we went. The next morning at about 4:30am Dustin and I were wide awake. We attempted to g back to sleep unsuccessfully and decided since we were already up we might as well get out of bed and go on a run to watch the sunrise. This was by far my favorite workout of the trip.

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Yoga on the beach

 

Next up was Crete.  We checked into a hotel, which happened to have a gym. This meant the 4 mornings in Crete I was able to do morning treadmill runs. It was nice to get into a semi-routine and not have to map out where I was going. Of course the first time I got on the treadmill I didn’t even think about the fact that Europeans use kilometers over miles. This meant the treadmill was speaking a completely different language then I was. I just ended up going with what felt like a push and ran for my usual time. Later I converted and found I had ran the 5-6 miles  I was intending to do. I stuck with this quick morning run the whole time we were there.

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My private yoga class from my hotel in Santorini

By the time Santorini came around I decided it was time to relax and enjoy vacation a little more. For the first morning I had a private yoga class at my hotel. I had found Veronika my yoga instructor for the morning on yogafinder.com, a site that tells you various yoga classes and teachers around the globe. I had also used this when I went to Portugal a couple of years ago. For only $40 Veronika came to me at my hotel for a one on one sessoin. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to do Yoga outside with an amazing view. It just happened to be a bigger bonus it was in a foreign country. Veroknia’s teaching style was pretty mellow and not very strenuous, however in my mind it was money well spent. The next day I went on a 5 mile run exploring the Island. There is no better way to see what a place has to offer then getting out and exploring on foot. This was my last workout before we headed back the next day.

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View from my morning run in Santorini

I typically never take airplane travel days off from working out as I know I am going to be sitting for long, extended periods of time. By the last day though I was just too mentally tired to try and get up early and run outside. Plus it was vacation. However with a 13 hour plane ride ahead I had to get creative to get all my 10k steps for the day in. I ended up walking around the airport a lot on our layovers and on the plane I got up every hour or so to do some laps, stretch, and run in place in the back of the plane. I have come to a point in life where I don’t really care what other people think. I hate sitting for long period of times, so if jogging in place for 5 minutes helps my legs I am going to do it. Mission accomplished, I ended the day with over 11k steps!

All of this running, moving, and walking also served another purpose besides just being healthy and wanting to see everything the cities had to offer. It was so I could eat and drink my way through the country. Up next I plan on sharing all of the amazing food I ate!

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New York City, A Love Affair Explored by Foot

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When I think about moments in my life where I am the happiest, it is when I am moving, exploring, letting my inquisitiveness get the best of me. I have always loved the un-known, the hunt of what could be out there. When I was a kid I was obsessed with ghosts, Halloween, and scary stories. Could it all be real? I would read books upon books on anything that seemed remotely mysterious or scary. Sometimes they would be non-fiction like the sinking of the Titanic or ancient Egypt. Other times it would be just RL Stein’s Fear Street books. Reading became my outlet for curiosity. As I moved into my teenage and early college years I would fill this need with spending hours walking through flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores trying to find a treasure, hidden or forgotten by others. Who owned it before, what was their story? Was the ship painting I had hanging on my living room wall someones wedding gift, was it bought while traveling, or simply someones hobby?  To this day reading and thrift stores are still  two of  my favorite past times, but I have now added in a new way to  quench my thirst for the new and that is the exploration of cities.

When I used to travel I would spend hours  in advance preparing everything I wanted to do on the trip. I had well thought out agenda’s and all of my time would be getting from one activity to the next. Now that my life is lived in a world where you go from one obligation to the next I have found living that way on a trip or vacation is not what I need. Now I want to just get lost in my surroundings. Find a hip coffee shop off the beaten path, the little corner market that stocks the most amazing gourmet cheeses, the wine bar with the inviting candle light from inside.

This last week I was in New York City for a work trip. I decided to take on a few extra days and work remotely from coffee shops while exploring the city. I have been to NYC over a dozen times, but as anything else it is ever evolving, changing, and constantly new. In just one week I managed to log 163k steps or about 82 miles. Now some of these steps were from running or spinning or the other workouts I enjoyed while there, but the majority of these steps were from just walking.

Now what did I encounter over these 163k steps? I found quaint coffee shops, an over abundance of clothing stores, new spinning, rowing, and barre studios, locals shoveling snow after a big storm, endless amounts of toys, the off smile from a stranger, conversations with friends and colleagues, admiration of fashion choices, but most importantly I found time with myself and my thoughts. As I sit here now typing this from my hotel room on my second back to back work trip I cant help but long for a walk through the cold. Alas, I am on my way back to my normal routine where walking will still be a big part of my day to day, but not like how it was this last week. I guess I will now find contentment in the week by sharing the moments captured from these walks. So stay tuned….