The Joys of Running on Holiday
What better way to celebrate being away from the pressures of work and the office than going out for an adventurous run in a new locale? Running on holiday is a great way to explore before the rest of the world gets up, discover new routes, and generally soak up the atmosphere in a new place.
Since I took up running around 5 years ago, I’ve always looked forward to holiday running (or “jogger tourism”) as a break from the normal running routine. Gone are the predictable, familiar routes, replaced by runs into new and unfamiliar places, terrains and temperatures. For me it’s all about the early morning start to take in the sunrise over serenely empty beaches; to explore the local area before people have even put out their towels on the sunloungers before breakfast.
I’ve been lucky enough to go holiday running in dozens of locations over the past few years, from the Lake District in midwinter to the sweltering heat and humidity of Barbados, and most recently the perfect climate of Menorca in June.
Cameron in his Lancaster Vivo Red running vest
Discover as you go
The main difference is really not having a clear idea of where you’re going. I know my London routes like the back of my hand, so I switch off and listen to music and the next thing I know I’ve run 10km or a half marathon. With holiday running it’s about having a vague idea of where you fancy going and having a mental map (and your mobile phone), and then seeing where the roads, paths and trails take you. The easiest routes generally revolve around finding a trail along a river or stretch of coastline and then following that along. My most recent Menorcan adventures entailed a couple of dead-ends until I found a beautiful trail run from Cala Galdana down to Cala en Turqueta, which merited a return trip with my wife a couple of days later on an afternoon hike.
Jogger tourism is particularly great for exploring cities early in the morning, working to more of an open “head this way for a few km” mindset and seeing where serendipity might take you. It’s a great way of finding new neighbourhoods to explore (and those to avoid) when you’re exploring later in the day with friends and family at a more pedestrian pace. It’s also a million times better than the dreary hotel treadmill.
Trail in Menora
Soak up the atmosphere
You won’t find yourself setting any PBs (although I did a surprisingly fast half marathon around the Palm and back in Dubai a couple of years ago), as the terrain will be different (OK, I’m almost entirely used to running dead flat along the Thames) and you’ll be stop-starting a lot more than normal. I almost always run without headphones, not just because it’s safer (cars driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, random stray dogs, and all that) but also to soak up the atmosphere of the place you’ve been blessed to visit.
Sunrise in Menora
In terms of stuff to pack, the Iffley Road vests are fantastic for hot weather running - they're highly wicking, light-weight, and dry very quickly. A rucksack comes in handy for water (you can’t count on 24 hour corner shops for emergency supplies on holiday!) and maybe pack a few Tribe or Kind bars to provide tasty, high protein, natural fuel along the way. With the early starts I tend to have my kit ready in the bathroom so I can get changed without waking the family up, and generally do fasted runs rather than delaying in order to digest some sort of breakfast – but always good to have something small when you’re watching the sunrise.
Try not to miss breakfast...
Always be sure to ask the advice of the hotel staff or locals before setting off somewhere new, they’ll often have great tips on where to go and – more importantly – where to avoid. It’s always essential that someone knows where you’ve gone, and how long you’re going to be, in case you get lost or stuck somewhere and need help. Be sure to pack your phone and emergency cash, and perhaps a small tube of suncream (and cap) in case you’re out longer than expected. Avoid roaming charges by remembering to switch mobile data off when you’re not using maps, and try to visualise and plan some sort of route rather than running mobile in hand the whole way. Don’t be too ambitious, and remember it’s generally not that easy to find a taxi home if you’ve overdone it – and don’t expect your family to be too pleased about your epic trans-Barbados island run when you’re an hour later than expected for breakfast!
Beach in Menora