Grit Doctor: Put the rosé down and run

A holiday without running can motivate you to dust off the trainers post-vacation

Q: Running on hols is a bad idea, right?

A: Well, yes, that’s certainly what I’ve always told myself. Since having kids, the challenges have always seemed insurmountable to me. First, there is the beer or day wine (rosé) with lunch, which I find almost impossible to resist, and which totally nukes any motivation to run afterwards. The kids go to bed much later on holiday and I often go to bed at the same time (I blame lunch).

Those reasons/excuses have always made me shy away from running.  I’ve justified this by telling myself that my knees and legs need a break from the sport, and that through simply staying active; swimming and playing with the children, I’m getting enough exercise. And I stand by that.  Surely it is sufficient when you are parenting young children just to run around after them outdoors all day in the fierce heat (bar the necessary long lunchbreak of course)?  Throw a ball, sand and water into the mix and you’ve got your high-intensity strength and cardio workout nailed (provided you are putting your back into it that is).   If all you are doing is keeping score from a lilo while sipping a cocktail, you need to up your game.

The holiday from running acts like a magnet back into the sport

Plus, I’ve always come back after a holiday having missed my runs, much like I’m sure I’d feel towards my darling husband and the twins had that fortnight abroad been without them – heaven forbid.  The holiday from running acts like a magnet back into the sport, because I can’t wait to dust off my trainers and hit the woods as soon as I return home.

However, with a half-marathon to run just two weeks after we get back, and given my current woeful levels of fitness (see previous column), I really can’t get away with no running this time. I have to grit out at least three or four runs, and ideally at least one long one. It is this reality that has exposed the true source of my fear, which is simply that I have a breathtakingly bad sense of direction, and that I am geographically challenged to an unprecedented level.


I’ve shied away from holiday runs because I’m scared of getting lost, of not being able to find my way back. This explains why the only holiday running I’ve ever done is on a beach – to one end and back to the same spot – and repeat if necessary.  I can get over the paralysing heat, because I’m happy to run late at night or early in the morning, and I can easily forgo a day or two of day wine.

I am embarrassed to admit that my fears could be so easily cured if I were to embrace the technologies designed to alleviate them. In fact, it seems silly that I don’t run with a mobile phone like everyone else. This would provide reassurance on a run, particularly in an unfamiliar place.  Also, what of the million different running apps available, why haven’t I embraced those?  Maybe I should have made one myself!  But I’m pathetically app averse, and insist on my no music, no distractions, no gadgets routine. I only want to hear the sounds of my breath, footfall and pounding heart (and any axe-wielding murderers or rabid dogs closing in on me).

Being young, she has less truck with my lame old girl negative nonsense about technology

But my new running buddy, who is 11 years my junior, encouraged me to try www.gmap-pedometer for our family sojourn in Italy. Being young, she has less truck with my lame old girl negative nonsense about technology, and has reassured me that this is an extremely tech-lite option. I think this means that it's super basic and easy to use, even for a technophobe like me.

So, I've taken her word, and also got myself a running pouch thing.

So folks, I’m boarding the plane in my running trainers with some low-maintenance kit and a plan, and leaving my usual holiday excuses behind.  I hope that the prospect of meeting up with her a few days after I return for our final training run should be enough to motivate me into a long tech-lite run one evening in the Tuscan hills.

Otherwise, I’m toast.

The Grit Doctor says

Lay off the lady petrol and embrace tech.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!).

First, pick the programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
- Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
- 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!