Sometimes you just want to run, free from goals and training schedules. It doesn’t matter where or how far, you just want to experience that moment of exhilaration of the wind brushing past your face. It’s pretty easy to fulfil this desire when you’re at home in the routine of everyday life – a break from the desk does you good – but it becomes more difficult if, say, you’re on your holidays (and running holidays do not count).
Depending on what you do, and in my case it’s normally some form of travelling around the chosen destination. This means you may not know where you’ll be from one day to the next. You try and make the most out of your holiday by visiting all the must-see sights, which means scheduling in a run is near darn right impossible. Not that it should really matter. After all, unless you’re training to be a world-class athlete taking a break once in a while will probably do you a whole world of good.
There are times however when you do have the chance to put on your running shoes and explore the city where you’re staying by foot. And on my latest holiday in Vietnam, my running shoes were an absolute must. I took to the streets to run for the following reasons:
1. Stretching my legs after travelling
Sometimes a teeny-weeny part of me wish my partner and I were one of those couples who could spend two weeks lazing around on a white sandy beach, occasionally arising from our sunbeds to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. But in reality I know that after half a day of a beach holiday and I’m bored. Itching to explore and find out new information about the country I’m in. But with all this thirst for adventure comes the travelling. And this can really take its toll on your legs. By running for just 20 minutes in Vietnam, I felt better. Maybe it’s psychological, I don’t really know, but a good stretch in the sunshine has got to be good for you.
2. Explore where you are
As in your surroundings and also find your bearings. I had the chance to run in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hanoi. Despite the fumes (especially in Ho Chi Minh City), simply getting out and taking to the streets at 6am in the city allows you to get a feel for the city. As the climate is so humid, it wasn’t unusual to see people, starting their day, cooking rice and setting up store to sell Bahn Mi or Pho at a relatively early hour of the day. Of course, you always need to be aware of potential dangers but seeing the markets setting up shop for the tourists and working out how to get to a specific park is all part of the fun of running on holiday.
3. And see how the Vietnamese exercise
What struck me most about Vietnam was how much exercise they did first thing in the morning. In Hanoi, people of all ages headed to Hoan Kiem Lake to take part in Tai Chi, aerobic classes or use the series of gym equipment located there. I saw salsa in the bandstands in Ho Chi Minh City and badminton (the national sport) or versions of this racket sport involving feet, a net and a shuttlecock. There were a few runners but it seems that the Vietnamese like to exercise together and turn it into a social occasion. If you ever head to Vietnam, I’d recommend going to one of the local parks just to experience the very social way they like to move it.
Do you take your running shoes on holiday with you? What has running on holiday taught you? Let me know below.