I hate running for the sake of running. I need a ball to chase. Or a disc. Or a person. Or maybe a bull to run away from (this has happened to me, twice). But just running for the sake of running? I can think of nothing worse (not even the bull thing).

Usual running park in Vienna
My usual running park in Vienna

This was my position six weeks ago, before I started running and stuck to it. Now, I’m less harsh. I can see the benefits of running. We’re still not best friends, but I can tolerate the idea.

Running on Lokrum - an Island with views of Dubrovnik
Running on Lokrum – an Island with views of Dubrovnik

The reason I even contemplated the idea of running was because living in Vienna for a Semester makes it difficult for me to join team sports (my favourite and most played of which are football (soccer) and Frisbee). I was aware of the notion that keeping fit is beneficial to one’s health. The tipping point was a bet with a friend. I wanted to prove (perhaps to myself, more than him) that I could do it. And so the terms were laid out: I had to run 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes. Not so hard, right? Surely even I, a staunch opponent of the very idea of running, could manage that.

Transylvania
Transylvania

The benefits to running on exchange soon became clear to me. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover a new city. I get to cover more ground than I would walking, and I have access to places I wouldn’t have on public transport or a bike. The only limit to what I can explore is my own stamina. Furthermore, running is an individual and transferrable skill – when I travel to new places for a couple of days, I can run in that place and discover more of the place. I feel like running gives me an insight into the actual day-to-day lives of locals as I run through their neighbourhoods. It lets me escape from the well-worn tourist trail. Or, it lets me explore more of the fantastic scenery and nature that this world offers.

Slovenia
Slovenia

I began to see tangible improvement very quickly. My first run, I ran for 20 minutes, with my goal being to just run without stopping. Since then, I have been able to improve my speed and consequently my distance significantly. It’s quite rewarding to see such tangible improvements, and gives me the motivation to continue.

I very rarely feel like going for a run before I go, but after the runs I feel energetic and excited for what I can achieve the next time I go for a run (this motivation tends to dissipate immediately before the next run).

I’m not sure that I’ll keep running when I come back to Australia and have the chance to take part in team sports again. But I am very glad that I’m giving it a chance for this semester. It’s keeping me fit, happy (every time other than immediately before the run), and healthy, and its giving me the opportunity to explore new places.

Salzburg (2)
Salzburg

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