Get Running: Pack your runners along with your passport
Holidays are all about indulgence so why not treat yourself to some quiet time during a morning run?
It’s the time of year when all routine goes out the window. In theory, summer months are the time to kick back, relax and put the feet up.
In practice, the lead-up to the summer holidays can be even more stressful than an average week. What with juggling the practicalities of kids at home all day, extra work pressures due to colleagues on leave, and last-minute packing, many of us are more frazzled than normal.
By the time we reach our destination, the last thing we might be thinking of is running. Think again.
Picture this. You wake up on holiday early while the rest of the house sleeps, you sneak on your running gear, albeit half asleep, and escape into the bright daylight with no one but yourself to answer to. You choose your route, your pace, your walk breaks, your photo stops and maybe even a sneaky little coffee or ice cream on the way home.
You see the sights before the tourists descend and by the time you return home, bearing breakfast from the local bakery, you are feeling smug, refreshed and relaxed.
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? The hardest bit is getting out of bed.
We all need quiet time and this might be the only time of the day you’ll have to yourself. Escape while you can and treat this run as a luxury. If you see it as a chore, or an item on a to-do list, it just becomes another form of stress.
Morning running on holiday works best for many reasons. You have less time to make excuses. You avoid the heat of the day. You feel smug and relaxed for the day ahead. It doesn’t disrupt family plans. And you get to avoid crowds, tourists, and maybe even your family for a while.
How to make your holiday runs workChange the rules: Aim to run less than you would normally run at home. Ignore pace and distance. Choose to enjoy the run and the surroundings, and take in the new sights, smells and scenery. Get organised: Set your clothes out the night before so you don’t have any excuse or delay in the morning. Decide your general route and set your alarm for a time you know is realistic.
Bribe yourself: Tell yourself you are going out walking with no pressure to run. Once you are walking for 10 minutes you will feel like running. Run a bit, walk when you want, take photos, run up steps, take a detour. Make it fun. Be a running tourist: Avoid the crowds and see the sights before the world wakes up. Take some photos of your run or write a blog about your adventures.
Don’t get lost: Make sure you have a general idea of where you are going. There are thousands of runs, all over the world, plotted out on mapmyrun.com . Use a map as a guideline but don’t be afraid to take a little detour.
Find a local event: Maybe there is a parkrun or a charity run in town. If there is a local running shop, the staff can advise you about running groups or free events that might suit you. Heat and hydration: Be mindful of the weather and heat. Avoid running during the warmest part of the day. Run in the shade where you can, and bring a few euro in your back pocket to stop for a drink when you need one.
Be sensible: Think safety on your route. Do your research and tell someone your planned route. Wear suncream, and if you are wearing headphones, keep one ear free. Don’t forget that traffic might be on the other side of the road.
Save space on packing: Bring old T-shirts and running shoes that are ready for recycling. Explore beaches, woods, parks and all sorts of surfaces without worrying about ruining your shoes. Then leave them all behind and make space in your suitcase for the return journey.
Running does not have to be stressful. It can be a special part of your holiday. A bit of time to yourself to think, to relax, to enjoy the peace and quiet of your holiday location before the world wakes up.
See it as a privilege. It may even inspire you to see running in a new light and help you keep up the routine when you settle back into reality after the holidays.
Mary Jennings is a running coach. See irishtimes.com/getrunning and ForgetTheGym.ie