I recently spent six days in London, my first international excursion since my monthlong study abroad in France in 2007.
Some of the culture shock was expected, some of it wasn't, but here's the part that bears relevance to the central theme of this blog: London has lots of runners. High-tech, low-tech and everything in between, just like on the Midwest sidewalks I'm used to.
I don't recall seeing many runners in France — mostly bicyclists — but then again, I wasn't a runner back then and probably wouldn't have taken much note of any runners. The author of "French Women Don't Get Fat" did mention, though, that her countrywomen exercise enough by walking and riding bikes that they don't need to go to gyms, run, etc.
Was that in the back of my mind when I first began noticing British runners with surprise? Possibly, and the nightly fatigue in my entire lower body would agree with any Londoner who made the same observation about life and health in his or her city.
After all, the strong suspicion that daily life would be enough of a workout for me led me to leave all my running gear at home. (Also, the strong suspicion that the Old World's haphazard city planning would confuse this grid-based brain.)
But now that I'm not jet-lagged, I can think of more than just one famous British runner — Paula Radcliffe was the only one that came to mind, over Roger Bannister and Mo Farah — and it seems less odd that so many Londoners would head out for a run.
It made me just a little sad that I left my gear behind. Not a lot, because I knew I didn't need to start each day of sight-seeing with three miles already on my legs, but just a little. Especially when I thought of the pints, chips and gelato I'd be diving into shortly.