Hello new friends! My name is Danielle, the traveling health foodie from Around the World in 340 Days. While Nicole and her husband are country-hopping across Europe, I’m back at home in the states, graduating from college, looking for a job, and blogging along the way. So, when I saw that Nicole was looking for guest posters I jumped at the opportunity. Although she may not know it (until now) Nicole is an incredible inspiration for a girl like me. Why? I am anything but an athlete.
The problem began with organized sports. You see, after playing softball and field hockey for seven years, I had spent most of my young adult participating in the ideal workout combination of cardio and strength training with a focus on competition, not exercise. By the time I got to college, I hadn’t developed those physical activity habits that others had under their belts. Why would anyone workout just to workout I wondered? I should note that I’ve been naturally thin for most of my life. Soon enough, the answer hit me in the form of five to ten to fifteen pounds. I couldn’t believe it! Upon realizing that I did not still have that incredibly fast metabolism I focused on food, limiting calories, making smart choices, cutting down on snacking. But I could not, for the life of me, get myself to the gym. At this point, I had become to un-fit that I was afraid of what others would think about my lack of endurance, speed, and strength. Following one year of extremely healthy eating I had certainly slimmed down but not “enough.” In addition to my figure-dissatisfaction, I was also in a foreign country, studying abroad, and trying to adjust to my new life there while maintaining my relationships back home.
It was during this challenging yet wonderful experience that I fell in love with running. Between living with an extremely fitness-focused host-family and reading motivational healthy living blogs with a focus on exercise, like Nicole’s, I couldn’t help myself. The key, I soon found, was running with a purpose. I began with a beginner’s training plan from Runner’s World that focused on the Galloway method. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a run-walk-run-walk sequence to build endurance and as such, I started out slow. I ran at various times throughout my days with the trusty timer on my international cellphone. Not surprisingly, before long I started to figure out my preferences: running in the morning is best, half a banana with peanut butter is the perfect pre-run fuel, etc.
Unfortunately, and hypocritically, as I became a runner, the plan became less of a priority. I was bored; I didn’t have the time to run longer and I had no way to systematically increase my speed… how was I going to keep myself hooked?
Explore. What I love most about traveling is that it gives me a way to tap into my innate curiosity with new experiences and adventures each and every day. So, I applied the same concept to running. I began to find new routes in my neighborhood each time I went out for a run and I packed my shoes with me on every day or weekend trip. Running grew into something that was just as exciting as the actual studying abroad itself.
I may not yet consider myself an athlete, but I do not doubt for one second that I am a runner. In my opinion, running is the best form of exercise to exercise that there is. It is an invigorating and therapeutic experience; It is easy and free to do almost anywhere; It makes me feel strong and accomplished.
Whatever your personal fitness discovery, I do hope that you allow yourself to find it. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with new workouts or routines, you may find a new passion. And if not, well, at least you kept things interesting. Ready, set, go!
Thank you so much, Danielle, for guest posting! You are inspiring to me too! And you ARE an athlete!