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.
As I sat down to work the other week on an ordinary Tuesday morning, the small print in my diary announced that it was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was #BreakTheBias which focuses on not just acknowledging gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping but advocates actively calling it out every time we see it. I couldn’t help thinking that this year’s theme couldn’t be more apt as it is simply not enough to only think about these issues on a dedicated day. In fact, after reading the results of a recent survey by the charity, Women in Sport, it left me in no doubt that our girls and young women need our support to excel every day.
After a dismally soggy May that gave us record levels of rainfall, we seem to be finally enjoying the start of what could be a long, hot summer…interspersed with the odd unsettled, wet day. After all, it wouldn’t be a British summer without a bit of weather uncertainty. Nevertheless, all the signs are here. Whether it’s the competing wafts of boho BBQs, the relentless tunes of circling ice cream vans or the sheer number of adults adopting flip flops as outerwear, the British public are truly embracing the summer with both arms. But while some are resolutely heading outdoors, many others have their eyes firmly fixed on their tvs watching the long-awaited Covidly postponed UEFA Euro 2020 competition. I have to say that while I am enjoying the chance to finally go for some runs in mostly decent weather I am also glued to the footie and the drama on and off the pitch. However, something that has also caught my attention while following the Euros happens to be a real bugbear of mine. Once again, we have a tournament showcasing some world class sportspeople that is sponsored by one of the world’s largest soft drinks company. But I’m not the only one who isn’t happy about it. Just ask Ronaldo.
the appointment of the new Marmite-like Prime Minister in the middle of the
UK’s sweltering summer, it may feel impossible to be keeping a cool head. Whatever
your political affiliation or views on Brexit, one thing is for certain: it is
a struggle to carry on as normal in temperatures more akin to the tropics. Somehow,
even if many of us look forward to being in the same temperatures when we’re on
holiday, when we are at home trying to get on with our daily lives, a heatwave makes
it seem utterly unbearable. Of course, there will always be those amongst you who
are perfectly comfortable blissfully soaking up the hot sun. They are the same people
who appear effortlessly cool on the Underground without a single bead of sweat
in sight. And I shouldn’t complain when if given the choice, I will always opt
for taking on the heat rather than facing cold weather because it is my
personal Kryptonite. However, this summer I am failing miserably to cope with
the heat when it comes to running.
As some people may know, I like to participate in the odd running event for fun and over the years, have managed to complete several half-marathons. I never thought I would say it, but I quite like running this distance. Mainly because of the broad range of people and abilities taking part, including many of those wearing fancy dress. There will always be some seriously speedy competitors at the front of the pack kitted out in the latest high-tech trainers but they definitely do not make up the majority of runners. Which means that the whole event feels less like being part of a ‘race’ against each other and more like running in the middle of a giant wave of like-minded participants that surges forward past the crowds.
But despite the all-embracing, tree-hugging inclusion with motivational cheering of half-marathons, you cannot hide the fact that there are also 21km of hard slog to contend with. Not everything always goes to according to plan on the day, despite your best efforts, and I am no different. In fact, it is fair to say that my experience of running half-marathons has been very mixed…
When I think of the halfs that didn’t go well, the 2015 Milton Keynes Winter Half-Marathon immediately comes to my mind. The weather was hellish with torrential rain of biblical proportions that had completely flooded the course before the race started. As the route had not been altered, there were several unavoidable ‘puddles’ that were actually knee-deep icy pools. The freezing rain never stopped once and the wind lashed it down so hard it felt as if we were being fired at with needles. It was so relentless, it put me off running halfs for quite some time afterwards.