This post is the sixteenth in our England 2015 series.
One of the most personally surprising things about our trip was the way I completely abandoned my intention of running in London. I had envisioned running throughout the side streets of the city, listening to U2, exploring the neighborhoods, and enjoying the fresh air — but it never happened. I wasn’t prevented from this kind of adventure. It just turned out that I didn’t want it bad enough.
Vincent Square: one of the many places I did not run.
My daily life in Chicago is quite sedentary: I work from home, I teach our children at home, and my favorite pastime is reading. I need to build movement into my everyday habits in order to care for my mental and physical health (not to mention the need to keep pace with my cookie habit). In London, I clearly did not have to worry about getting enough exercise — we were walking 20,000 steps each day on average and felt wiped out every night.
But the real truth is: I was chicken. My herd instinct kicked into high gear in this unfamiliar country. I felt oddly untethered every time I was separated from my family, as if I would float away into space if I got too far away. My biggest trips alone occurred on my morning visits to the local bakery for croissants (did I mention the energy-burning benefits of walking 20,000 steps each day?) — and that felt about as adventurous as I needed.
I felt a bit of a pang every time I saw a Londoner running in the city (often with a tiny backpack). I kept asking myself, “Do I want to go running? Will I be sad to return home without having gone for a run?” In the end, I decided that I didn’t need it. Not on this trip. Maybe next time, when the city feels a bit more familiar to me, when I’m feeling a little bit braver, when I have a clear and easy path to take. Or maybe not. To be honest, as long as I can eat those croissants without negative effects, skipping the running habit wasn’t too bad.