"I don't know what my path is yet... I'm just walking on it." -- Olivia Newton-John
Hello, my friends! As I mentioned in a blog post a while back, I just went on vacation... to Europe! Not only was it my first trip to Spain and France, but it was my first trip overseas altogether. I was so excited! I was also determined. Though never one to sit around and lounge on vacation, I was very determined to keep up my workout routine (or something like it) while I was on vacation. I was also determined to make it around in two foreign countries where I don't speak the language via public transportation (see the stairs I hiked below from the subway for an example - what was I thinking?!?!)
Spain was a marvelous (albeit quick) adventure. We spent our first day in Spain in the beautiful coastal city of Barcelona! Much to my dismay, we spent the majority of our time on buses and airplanes, so I didn't get nearly as much exercise in the city as I had hoped. Of course, I did walk enough to get terrible blisters on my feet - so bad, in fact, that I had to buy new shoes while we were there! Ouch! When we made it back to Madrid that night, we racked up additional miles walking to/from my new hotel and dinner, so I finished the day with a respectable 22,000 step count :) Not bad, but oh how my calves and feet hate me.
Our second day was by far our most active. Knowing that we would be walking a lot as we explored our base city of Madrid, I made sure to wear my trusty Gel Nimbus Asics - fashion be damned! I also took the time to do some stretching exercises and yoga before I met up with my friends at their hotel, and I'm oh-so-glad that I did! We racked up an impressive 14.5 miles of walking, which included hundreds of stairs and many hills. In the past, such a busy day would have led to a night full of Charlie Horse cramps and epsom salt soaks, but I held up surprisingly well!
During our last day in Madrid, my friend and I decided to split our time between Toledo and Madrid. Remembering the lessons from the day before, I started my day again with some dynamic stretches and a bit of yoga. After meeting with my friend at our hotel, we headed off to the beautiful city of Toledo! It was such an impressive and charming city. We enjoyed wandering the historic narrow streets, taking tons of pictures and enjoying a traditional Spanish lunch of seafood tapas and Sangria. We also walked a lot, racking up another 25,000 steps as we explored. Although I did my dynamic stretches that morning, however, I made the poor choice to wear cute shoes instead of comfortable ones, and my body definitely noticed the difference.
I returned to my hotel that night to pack for Paris, a little worse for the wear. My feet hurt, my legs were cramping, and I felt like someone had punched me in the nose (thanks allergies). Ugh! So, in an effort to spare you the pain of such end of day torture, I offer you the following suggestions should you take an adventure of your own:
- Footwear: You should always wear shoes appropriate for the activity. Yes, my Converse All-Star Chucks are cute, but they're also heavy! And for a girl with Barbie arched feet, they don't provide nearly enough support to walk 10+ miles a day. Fashion can take a holiday... wear shoes that support your feet!
- Stretch: If you think you're going to do a great deal of walking, especially if said walking includes a lot of stairs and/or hills, STRETCH! Just because you're not doing a true workout does not mean that your muscles won't be working the same. Start your day with a dynamic stretch. I do this most mornings anyway as its a great way to wake up your muscles before you start your day. And at the end of your day? Stretch again! Cooling down your day with a static stretch is a great way to lengthen and stretch those sore muscles before you climb into bed. I wish I would have taken my own advice and done this my 3rd day in Spain. Oh, how my legs hurt in Paris!
- Hydrate: Traveling will dehydrate you. Don't get excited on your long-haul flight with all the free alcohol they offer you. Make sure you drink water and juice too! And while you're walking and sightseeing around the country? Drink water! Yes, Sangria is delicious and that cafe con leche is divine, but nothing will hydrate you as well as a glass (or several) of water. My friend laughed because I was drinking water like a camel... but trust me... those cramps hurt worse if you're dehydrated!
All in all, this was one of the best vacations I have ever had! I felt good and never suffered from the jet lag or the plane cramps that I feared that I would endure. Although there are several lessons learned (footwear, allergy meds, etc), I prepared for this adventure far better than I would have a year ago! And next time, I'll be even better prepared! I can't wait to take my next adventure!
Back to my regular fitness and health routine, folks. Reality waits for no (wo)man! This vacation has reinvigorated my passion for life, and I can't wait to spend it happier and healthier than before.