In late June/early July, I had a work assignment that involved traveling on a Jewish heritage river cruise down the Danube.
While it sounds fun and glamorous, which it was, it can be hard to run and stick to a training plan while you’re on a cruise ship.
I know that you’re all feeling very bad for me right now, but given the amount of dessert that was served (and that I ate), it was important that I get my runs in, and the wobbly looking treadmill in the 6 x 8 exercise room wasn’t very appealing.
I joined up with the cruise in Melks, Vienna and while it looked like a charming city, there wasn’t time to get a run in before we were off down the Danube.
Overnight we made it to Vienna, and though it was supposed to get up to the mid-80s, we docked only minutes before I needed to be working and no time to get a run in on shore. But, as we headed over to the bus, I noticed a path going endlessly in both directions.
So in the afternoon, while other passengers were napping, I took off for a tempo run.
It was perfect. Though the weather was warm, there was a breeze and the path had enough runners to make me feel like I had company, but not enough to crowd me out. Though I was only doing 6 or so miles and didn’t feel the need for hydration, I noticed old fashioned water pumps along the way. Sometimes, I really enjoy running through a city and getting to know it. But having a flat, well marked, safe path to do a tempo run was perfect for that afternoon.
I enjoyed the run so much that even though the following day was a scheduled rest day, I ended up squeezing in 5 miles early in the morning before we sailed just to enjoy the river. There were a number of runners out, and again, I felt how universal running is.
We sailed onto Bratislava right after breakfast, and though we spent the afternoon touring around town, we left too early the next morning for me to get a run in before we explored Budapest.
The following morning, I was thrilled to try and get a speedwork in before breakfast and was looking forward to another well developed river path, since the Budapest riverfront is gorgeous.
Not so much. I started off on one side of the river, and within my first mile encountered a sudden dead end, path too narrow to run on, cobblestones I was sure I was going to break an ankle on, and an unexplained sand pit.
I switched over to the other side, and though it was a little better, the paths were clearly designed for bikers — at points shunting pedistrians off to side routes that ended in traffic or on paths where the trees hung almost to the ground.
The odd thing is that I remember having an incredible run along the river in Budapest in 2009. So . . . I wish I could remember where I ran then, or how I avoided the cobblestones or what was different. Perhaps this blog will help. Or help others. I wish it were easier to identify running communities in countries where I don’t speak the language.
If only there were a Fleet Feet everywhere around the world . . .