Of Running and Travel

IMG_0741by Allison Macsas

It has been one year since the inaugural Rogue Expeditions trip, and as we prepare to depart for trips #3 and #4 this week I couldn’t help but reflect on how swiftly this crazy idea has taken root and grown.

We began with Morocco last March, having no idea whether it would be a one-off, or something bigger.

Apparently, it was to be something bigger.

We followed that adventure with a shorter, closer-to-home Tahoe trip, which drew a wonderful group of women and was the perfect escape from Texas in July. In the meantime, we were making important connections and working behind the scenes to develop new destinations, allowing us to come into 2014 with a slew of offerings: Morocco (two groups!) in March, Tahoe in July, Morocco again in early November, Kenya in mid-November and Patagonia in the early planning stages.

The response has been huge, and though Gabe and I sometimes find it hard to believe that we are really getting the chance make this happen, at closer look I am not surprised at all. Running and travel are a natural pairing with abundant parallels, and I’d like to highlight a few:

IMG_0258FEELING BEING ALIVE

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy marketing campaign, this is a huge element of both running and of travel.  No matter the reasons that you choose to run – for health, for fitness, for friends, for challenges – ultimately you are choosing to go out into the elements, put one foot in front of the other, rely upon yourself and embrace being ALIVE.  The same goes for travel – when you choose to travel, you are choosing to step out into the world, experience sights, sounds and smells and interact with all of those things – real, tangible things. For this reason, runners make natural travelers, and vice versa. Day5_Devon dust

STEPPING OUT OF COMFORT ZONES

Running is not comfortable. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll likely deal with achy knees, sore shins, burning lungs and a heavy dose of frustration. Eventually all of that passes, but the discomfort continues for even the most advanced runners: we deal with early mornings, hot weather, freezing weather, sweat, blisters, chafing, lost toenails, metaphorical brick walls and that terrible feeling at mile 20 that I’m just not going to make it. But, we keep running, and we do make it to the end, and once we get there we forget about every bit of discomfort along the way. All we know is that indescribable feeling of pushing past a limit, and we come away with a new level of confidence and excitement and satisfaction.

Travel is the same way.

1094995_608758295825546_1143697500_nCertainly, there are blatantly uncomfortable ways to travel, typically the result of a shoestring budget and involving lots of crowded public transport and dingy hostels in developing counties. But even comfortable travel is going to take you out of your comfort zone.  You will experience language barriers, strange foods and bizarre currency denominations. You’ll likely find out what it’s like to look different from everyone else, encounter toilets that you may not know how to utilize and find out that “normal” conveniences like big takeaway cups of coffee aren’t available. But then, you find other ways to communicate and connect, you discover new favorite foods and become a master bargainer. You stop worrying about standing out – most people aren’t looking anyway, they are just living their lives – you figure out the toilets and you find that sitting and savoring that tiny cup of espresso is much more fulfilling.  And then, you don’t think about “discomfort” anymore. Instead, you are reveling in the feeling of pushing past barriers and gaining – you guessed it – a new level of confidence. Day1_Troy overlook

SELF-REFLECTION

No matter how many running friends you have, it is inherently a solo sport. Anyone who runs regularly spends time alone with him or herself, thinking thoughts, dreaming dreams and solving problems. You learn a lot about yourself this way. You also learn a lot about yourself during hard workouts, big races and other personal running milestones. How do you respond to challenges? What do you do when things go wrong? How do you react to success, or to disappointment? When running, it’s all you, and most runners are keenly self-aware.

How does this apply to travel? Well, I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that you can’t truly know anything about your culture or your way of doing things until you get outside of it. When you’re immersed in a new culture and exposed to new ways of doing things, it makes you reflect upon your own version of living when maybe you’d never had a reason to do so before. Perhaps you begin to do some things differently, or perhaps you don’t. Either way, travel will make you highly, keenly self-aware. 4 pct group

MEMORIES, AND FRIENDSHIPS.

Describe what you did on the second Tuesday of March last year. Can’t do it? Of course not. Chances are, it was just another Tuesday, stuck in the middle of another week. Not that it wasn’t a good or a worthy day, but it simply wasn’t memorable.

Now, describe the marathon that you ran last year. I bet you can give a play-by-play, from the moment you woke up to the moment you celebrated that evening and every mile in between. I bet you remember every split, the exact temperature and humidity level and precisely how many gels you forced down. You know exactly what you were wearing. Why? Because it was a highly anticipated, physically and mentally intense experience. It was the very definition of memorable.

Day3_breakfast2And travel? Well, I can tell you exactly what I was doing on the second Tuesday in March last year, because I was in Morocco with an amazing group of adventurous runners. I can describe the stunning view from the terrace at breakfast, the chilly breeze at the beginning of our run, the kids who ran along with us and the drum circle that we became part of after dinner at our kasbah-hotel. Like a marathon, or even your first 5K, it was the very definition of memorable.

Day8_GoodbyesAnd friendships. The friendships are directly related to the experiences and the memories. Why are running friendships so strong? Because you take on challenges, you struggle and you succeed, all together. Intense, memorable experiences create lasting bonds, and I’ve overwhelmingly seen this in running, and in travel. Indeed, my closest friendships have developed from one (or both!) of these endeavors.

maasai giraffeSo, perhaps it isn’t so surprising that Rogue Expeditions is off to such a strong start. Running and travel, runners and travelers – it fits.

Please follow us over the coming weeks as we take not one, but two groups to Morocco and also head to Kenya to put the final touches on our November trip, with live updates along the way. Then, once you’re ready to extend your running – and living! – experience further out into the world, check out our upcoming trips, send me your questions and join us on a great adventure!

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UPCOMING TRIPS

Run Tahoe: July 23-27 (3 spots left!)

Run Morocco: October 30-November 8 (10 spots left!)

Run Kenya: November 14-25 (6 spots left!)

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