Why you shouldn’t get exercised by the prospect of a holiday workout

With the summer in full swing most people’s thoughts are firmly fixed on their upcoming holidays and the chance to finally unwind and take a break from their work…and workouts. And I am no different. It can be absolute bliss to be lazily soaking up the sun while sprawled out on a sandy beach with a good book and a cold drink by your side. But you will also probably not be surprised to hear that I believe that fitting in some exercise whilst on holiday can be the absolute making of it.  

Now before you stop reading this and skip to the recipe bit of the blog, I am not at all suggesting that every holiday must be an ‘active’ holiday. Although I may be a massive proponent of multi-activity adventure holidays and even guilty of going on running holidays that involve racking up enough serious mileage to go well into the triple figures, that’s clearly not for everyone. I am not even saying that you are not entitled to take a break from your routine workouts, runs or training plans. After all, putting in sufficient recovery time from training is essential to prevent injuries and illness particularly if you have just run an event. If you can manage to time your recovery in with a planned holiday, it can be the perfect opportunity to fully recharge yourself. But if instead you are one of the masses of people who are just hoping to not lose too much fitness while taking a break somewhere scenic, you could have much more to gain if you take advantage of your different surroundings with a workout.   

You may not want to hear this but one of the best ways to explore a destination when you are on holiday is to put in the odd early morning run or bike ride. Now I know there will be many out there including fitness enthusiasts who would still rather remain holed up in their hotel bed in slumberland and could only be motivated to get up early on holiday if it bags them a sun lounger. I am also someone who really needs their sleep and normally cannot get going in the morning without some energy. However, even as a well-known shirker of pre-breakfast workouts, I have accepted that when you are in warmer climes then exercising early may be the only way to avoid the stifling heat.

But ultimately, the real reason to go for an early morning workout is that you can see far more while running through the empty streets of a city that is still waking up. Which makes is easier to get a good sense of a new city and discover places and areas that you can earmark for a return. I cannot count the number of times on early morning runs where I have come across a fantastic new cafe, gelateria, restaurant or shop that would normally be obscured by the throngs of tourists congregating later in the day. And naturally there is no better way to end an early workout whilst on holiday than by stopping by a local café or bakery on the way back to your accommodation.   

If you are holidaying somewhere a bit more remote or in the great outdoors then the reward for getting up early can be immense. A pre-breakfast workout can turn into a local safari as you will likely encounter a whole new wealth of flora and fauna you hadn’t seen before. Of course, it goes without saying that as a tourist you should always keep your personal safety in mind when you are in new surroundings whether you are citybound or in the countryside. Find out beforehand if there are any areas that you should avoid venturing into especially if you are going out on your own. I recently returned from a family holiday in the Canadian Rockies where we had to adjust our planned mountain biking and running routes last minute due to several sightings of grizzly bears.

Assuming that all is well, then going for a workout while on holiday means that you will also more than likely come across other like-minded runners and cyclists as you explore an area. And simply seeing other people doing the same thing can also give you a better insight into and understanding of a place when you recognise the commonalities and differences. Perhaps I am just curious (or nosey) but as a runner, I always tend to notice who else is out there running and even the most mundane details of whether they are wearing different kit. In Majorca, for instance, I saw that runners of all ages wore snoods independent of the weather almost like a badge to show their membership of a club.

Of course, if you are at all interested in finding out more about your destination or the culture, observing other people can only tell you so much about it. The easiest way to really see a city and learn more about its people is to go one further and to simply join them. An easy Google search will quickly tell you if there are any local sporting events, fun runs or parkruns taking place at your destination and give details on how to sign up. Now you may think that trying to enter an event is the absolute worst idea for someone who is trying to relax on holiday and who is perfectly happy being on a break from their routine weekly parkruns. But trust me when I say that you don’t know what you will be missing out on because not all fun runs and even parkruns are the same. The differences in even the same sporting events held in another city or country can result in you having a lot more fun doing them than you would from just your usual ‘workout’ back at home. Plus it gives you an opportunity to meet the locals and find out where the best places to visit are. So if you only plan to do one run while on holiday why not make it interesting?

Again, whilst in the Rockies recently my family and I decided to sign up for the Canada Day fun run in Canmore that promised free pancakes along with a schedule of all-day festivities. I may have been on holiday but what runner could possibly resist that? I have to say that although my expectations were pretty high the fun run far exceeded them and it was probably my all-time favourite event. Despite the prospect of being chip-timed and prizes awarded to the winners of age-groups the fun run had the most relaxed atmosphere of anything I had ever entered and was absolutely packed with families of all ages participating in the various distances. Of course, it also helped that it took place in an area of outstanding beauty. The run, itself, was pretty tough and was rather hillier than even the course map suggested. And I am afraid that the queue for the pancakes afterwards was far too long for our raging appetites. But I came away with a great t-shirt, a medal (for 2nd!) and an enormous smile on my face and it was one of the highlights of my holiday.   

Now that I am back to work in the UK again and whilst enjoying some more summer weather I still have holiday plans on my mind. But this time I have another ‘running holiday’ in the wings for which I have already started the training. In this hot weather it is very common for appetites to wane but if you are training it’s really important to try to refuel to aid recovery. If you are facing the same hurdle why not try making these Pesto swirls for an irresistible After sport snack. Of course, you don’t have to be training for anything to enjoy them as a great snack or an addition to any meal.

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