Blogaria: Urban Forest Workouts

 Not your typical Central Park view.

Not your typical Central Park view.

While I float for the next month or so, I've dedicated myself to running every day. If not for the fitness benefit, I figure this will get me into a routine (word sound familiar?) that I can hold myself accountable for.

So far, so good, with 22 runs in 23 days (the lone exception being a ski mission day, more on that later). 

One of the things making these daily jog-a-bouts a little more enjoyable is the kind of impressive amount of running terrain I'm finding within city limits. Sofia for instance has a surprising amount of urban parks for what I expected out of a gray, drab, post-Communist city.

Fun fact, after visiting Cuba, China, and now Bulgaria, it seems like exercise was/is a key component in the Communist lifestyle, and nearly everyone is working out here in one form or another. That bodes well for me, as inner city parks like Park Borisova Gradina (ah, the elegance) feature full-on, forested running trails, enough so that I managed to get lost in a central city park for close to an hour before I could catch my bearings. This type of stuff is virtually unheard of in a Euro-metropolis, and I've been able to connect 40-plus minute trail runs without coming across the same track twice.

 A couple more obstacles than your typical defense.

A couple more obstacles than your typical defense.

But it doesn't stop at trail running. These parks also have a gaggle of little surprises ranging from a forest soccer field, to a fitness circuit built into the trees. On one run, I ran into a halfpipe seemingly plopped in the middle of the woods. I'm not sure of the rational behind the placement, but it sure makes the typical run a lot more exciting.

Before leaving Sofia the forest fitness circuit turned into my gym and I started to recognize the paths more and more. Still, every once in a while I would stumble on a wooded amphitheater or even a zoo.

City running can get really boring, but I have a feeling the old Bulgarian morning jog never will.

Bulgaria Facts: Bulgaria's Shopska salad, a signature mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and white cheese, was actually created by the country tourism board to promote the color's of Bulgaria's flag (white, green, and red).

During the Communist Era, religion was not banned, but it was frowned upon by the state. People could attend church, temple, or the mosque, but government agents (and even paid religious officials) stationed outside would take names of everyone who entered.

To further dissuade religious participation, the government that normally censored television programming would allow two special nights of Western television programming: Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday.

 Green's gym.

Green's gym.

Bulgarian Word: Zele (ze-lay) -- Cabbage. This is what people in Bulgaria say instead of, "Cheese," for photos.