If you love travelling and running, there’s no reason why you can’t combine the two. Even when not racing abroad, you can still make the most of your experience, explore your surroundings and even find an area off the tourist trail before the city wakes up. Whatever you do on your hols, don’t forget your toothbrush and trainers (and sports bra girls). Here’s why:
1. You can keep up with the KM
That’s kilometres for anyone who works with imperial measurements. Training for any kind of race requires a certain amount of commitment. While two weeks of complete rest will not undo all your good work (in certain cases some running fanatics may benefit), it can leave you feeling mentally underprepared.
In the crucial weeks before the London Marathon 2013 (late February to early March), I was sunning myself in Sri Lanka. It was amazing travelling all over this very interesting country, which is a tapestry of history and has one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen. When it came to training however, I only managed a few small runs. This meant that when it came to my marathon a month and a bit later, my time and confidence took a battering. I always feel that you should treat fitness like a language i.e. if you don’t use it, you lose it. You don’t have to train everyday but take your foot too far off the pedal and you’ll have to step up more than one gear on your return.
2. It’s an opportunity to explore new places
Now the “training advice” (believe you me, this is only from personal experience and may not apply to everyone) is over, one of the best reasons to take your trainers is they offers you endless opportunities. As long as you use a bit of common sense and (as hard as it is for me to write this) make sure that it’s cultural acceptable/ safe for you to go out alone, a run around the local area is a brilliant way to see the sights.
Ironically on July’s #run2workday, I was staying in Manchester (no, it wasn’t a holiday but I was a newbie to Manc) at the same hotel as the conference my work was hosting the next day. I could say ‘I ran to work’ but that would merely consist of sprinting across the corridor. Staying true to the spirit of the day, I packed my running gear so I could view the great city of Manchester before it became a hub of activity. As it was my first time in this great city, I didn’t really know what to expect but was really impressed by the architecture of the town hall and art museums. In fact, having been there in a working capacity and plodded around first thing in the morning, I now want to go back with my partner for a weekend.
3. And a chance to discover the new in familiar spots
Once you fall in love with a city or place (take Paris, for example), you may find yourself wanting to retrace your steps at least once again. By running in these familiar spots, you’re able to spot what has changed or stayed the same. For me, the city of Bath is a home away from home. I love nothing better than a long run up the canal to Bradford-on-Avon and am always surprised at what I notice. From fewer canal boats (the last time I visited) to more greenery and canal boats selling ice cream to the flowers and a new block of flats being built, I enjoy treading the same paths but discovering differences every time.
4. Plus something for later
Morning, midday, evening, who cares when you go for a run when you’re on holiday? Take a rough map, find your bearings so that when you do spot a cool bar, you can make a mental note for later. Want to check out if the guide is worth the paper that it is printed on? Try a run there before you make any decisions. As an early bird, I use my morning run on holiday as an excuse to check out the hotspots, discover if there is anything publicised that we could do later and find any golden nuggets (normally consisting of a bar with fabulous cocktails or a restaurant that serves a vegetarian meal other than risotto) that we simply must go to. If the city is small, I can also use it to gauge stuff like queues for museums, opening and closing times and the best places for coffee for my boyf (normally frequented by the locals).
5. It won’t weight you down
Quite simply, running is one of the easiest ways to stay on top of your fitness when away from home. All you need is a pair of trainers (and a sports bra girls), shorts and t-shirt, which you’ll probably take anyway if you’re heading somewhere warm. Are your trainers a bit bulky to pack in your suitcase? Wear them on the plane. But if you do want to pull off the whole “how to look good while you fly” (something I’ve never quite achieved as I a) love hoodies and trainers b) would wear my PJs to fly society-permitting), why not invest in some of the extra light-weight trainers around? Adidas have recently launched a pair of adizero Prime Boost. Who cares if they’re aimed at the boys, they look pretty awesome and claim to be as light as a feather and probably pack neatly into your bag. By taking your trainers you’ll also be sorted for any adventures where flip-flops won’t quite cut it. And who can say no to adventures abroad?
Do you train while on holiday? What have you discovered while running abroad?