I was recently asked by a colleague about whether they should run when they are on holiday, which to me seemed a pretty simple question with a basic answer – If you run when you’re at home then why should you stop just because you are on holiday?
Running should be fun, not a task or chore that we want to take a break from. If you’re not enjoying your running then you need changes to make it more enjoyable – reassess your plans, run slower, run with friends, postpone that goal race. Whatever you do, take the time to understand why you started and find that motivation to increase the enjoyment back to those original levels.
But that doesn’t apply to you, does it?! You are bringing your runners on holidays and you are looking forward to pounding the beachside promenade or forest trail. Hold on though, announcing that you’re off on a 3 hour long slow run wont cut it with the kids who are dressed and ready for the pool, so how about looking at a couple of small changes to keep those close to you happy while not giving up on that Strava run streak you have going with your friends.
Firstly, you need to decide if you’re looking to push on with your training plans or if you just want to maintain where you are and get back to the hard stuff on your return. A 20 or 30 minute run a couple of times a week is an ideal way to keep the fitness levels ticking over and the muscles will appreciate you not ditching the routine. A short run wont impact heavily on family time and can easily be scheduled at any stage in the day. If you normally run longer while at home then you could increase the effort for the half an hour that you are out, perhaps add in some intervals – hard & easy running mixed together. The shorter but more testing sessions will give you a much better return for your time.
With the race series and Dublin Marathon training in full swing you might be in the middle of a race specific training plan and feel any deviation will spell nothing but disaster? Trust me, you’re not disadvantaged in any way. You’re already disciplined enough to have a training plan that you are sticking to and it is very likely that you already make sacrifices to get your training done when at home. So it really is just a case of adapting the existing routine to fit around a different schedule before hitting the beach.
Perhaps you could think in time rather than distance, most of us will be on holidays with a family or loved ones and time based running is much easier for those not immersed in the plan to understand. Leaving for a 2hr run and saying you’ll be back at 10am gives pretty much the whole day for other activities, the kids will understand that you will return and be there for them at a specific time. Informing them that you have a 12mile tempo session and will go to the playground afterwards mightn’t have the same effect!
Hang on, you’ve just read the last paragraph again, back at 10? 2 hour run? That means I’m leaving at 8am! Yes, you will have to make sacrifices while away, but as we mentioned earlier if you are following a specific plan it is very likely you already are making those sacrifices while at home and therefore there will be very little shock to the system. If the early morning starts aren’t a runner (excuse the pun) then wait until the evening. For those who are lucky enough to get a sunshine holiday then early morning or late evening runs might be the most logical times to avoid excessive heat anyway. Always stay safe when running while away and certainly don’t take risks. Ask at your hotel, guesthouse or campsite reception if there are any recognised trails nearby, stay hydrated, be aware of the conditions and run with others where possible.
But when push comes to shove, what if none of this is looking attractive at all? 20 minute runs or 2 hour trails just mightn’t be your thing after you step off the plane and if thats the case then fine, though you need be prepared to live with the consequences of your decisions. Two weeks of unfettered eating & enjoyment will make your first session back a difficult one, but the body will remember and your fitness will return.
Repeat readers of my Irish Runner musings will be familiar with the fact that I regularly implore people to consider the reasons they started running- that should be all the motivation you need to decide what’s right for you. I understand that we can never always be motivated, sometimes we just need to be disciplined and perhaps holiday training is one of those times. Keep sight of your goals, decide what you want and what is right for you. If the draw to pack your runners isn’t strong, don’t let it get you down but don’t let it be the beginning of the end.
Whatever you chose, go enjoy your holiday. Remember to slap on the sunscreen and get back to your running when you get home.