Running while the sun shines


By the time you read this I will be sitting on the wairarapa coast of New Zealand looking out over the sea wondering if I will be having shellfish or fish for dinner.  Yep, summer is a great time the world over and New Zealand summers can be some of the best in the world.  Those idyllic days where the sky seems bigger than the whole world and time ticks by at 80 seconds to a minute, nowhere to go and nothing to do other than bait hooks, move the umbrella so you’re out of the direct sun and swim to cool off whenever necessary.

Which is fantastic, but how the hell do you fit some running into that mix and not get it in the way of spending quality family time which is actually the real purpose of going on a beach holiday in my opinion.  You know the kind where you just hang out together, no plans other than probably meeting for meals, perhaps a walk in the evening enjoying the last rays of the sun and then some games together before bed.   Yeah, running doesn’t really fit into that picture, but if I’m going to keep progressing with my training I will have to go for six runs in the two weeks we are away.

I have been thinking about this and I think I have a few options that will make this not only possible but potentially enjoyable not only for me but also the rest of the family!  I’ve outlined them below, have a read and let me know what you think in the comments.

  1. Run Early – I know that early mornings and holidays are a bit of an oxymoron, but I am finding that I am waking earlier in the morning even when my alarm isn’t set.  Throwing on my running kit and going for a run before everyone else gets up is a great idea to get my run in without taking away from family time.  Best case scenario, I get back everyone is still in bed and I can take Jane a cup of tea.  Worst case scenario is that Jane and the kids get up while I’m out and I come back to find breakfast is being cooked and a coffee waiting for me. (or is that the best case??)
  2. Introduce some cross training, we’re taking bikes with us this holiday so there is always the option to switch out a run for a bike with the whole family.  This is a good option as I’m probably the slowest in the family on the bike so I’d get a good workout and hopefully prove to the kids that old age and treachery can overcome youth and skill.
  3. Make the run part of a larger adventure.  We’ve always loved coastal walks where we all clamber over the rocks and look in rock pools for life and interesting stuff and gently make our way around the coast.  I reckon that there is no reason why I can’t start out with the family on my normal starting walk, then when its time to kick it up a gear go for my run in the same direction that they will be walking and have them follow me.  As long as I turn round about 20 mins into my 30 min run I should get back to them about the time I finish.  Then we can walk on together.  There are a few problems with this – mainly running on the beach or rocks will be difficult but the C2C run is pretty brutal off road so this will be good practice.

So there you go, three as yet untried techniques for fitting runs in around a family holiday.  I’m hoping that at least one of these has some legs and I do actually get my runs in.  I am of course taking a kayak (well two actually) so there will be plenty of paddling and some biking, so the chances of getting no exercise are pretty much nil.  I’ll let you know how I get on when we get back, in the meantime if you have any thoughts about the suggestions above or any of your own please leave a comment.




Running while you travel – Tips for getting the most out of your runs.


Last week I was lucky enough to travel to the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia for work.  My initial thought was “EXCELLENT” – I always love traveling overseas, and while Australia is basically New Zealand with better weather and worse accents its still a lot of fun.  My second thoughts though were, damn what am I going to be doing about my training.  Obviously cycling was going to be out, so it was going to be a week of running while I was attending a conference as well.  But how was I going to get the most out of my training for the week, while still enjoying the experience.  I did manage to continue my training and came up with the following tips to help you if you travel and run.

  1. Take your running kit with you.  Yes I know this seems a bit obvious, but if you don’t take your kit, you won’t be able to run, when you wake up and see it there watching you accusingly its a lot harder to blow off that days run.  Also don’t forget any preventative stuff you use – knee braces, anti-chafing cream etc. It doesn’t take up much room so there’s really no excuse.
  2. Check the weather.  You’ve decided to take your running gear, now its time to check the weather where you’re going to.  It might be a cool 15C where you are running at the moment, but if its 26C where you’re going to then you’ll need to pack slightly differently.  This is even more important if you are moving between seasons, there’s no point in packing your summer running kit if you’re heading to the opposite hemisphere’s winter.  Check if it is usually raining at the time you are going so that you can decide if you’re going to take a rain jacket or not, make sure you check how much rain they typically have as well – a light summer shower will need a different approach to a tropical downpour.
  3. Take enough shirts/socks.  So you’ve put your shoes in your bag and have a pair of socks, shorts and a shirt in there as well.  Thats great if you’re only going to be away for a week or so, but if you’re planning on running more than a couple of times you’ll want more than one top and a pair of socks for each day you plan to run.  Getting clothing laundered in hotels is expensive and hand washing is good for a day or so but eventually you need to put them into a washing machine.  Taking extra clothes just makes things easier.
  4. Plan your schedule.  This ties into the point above, if you’re running every day or every other day or even just once a week for a multi week trip, unless you know roughly how often you are going to run you won’t know what you need to pack.  Planning should also cover how long/far you intend to run.  Unless you are on some major training program that demands constant improvement then I would recommend not changing your program much, travel can mess with your body and you can be struggling with jet-lag as well, adding extra distance to those factors is a recipe for disaster.  You may be able to achieve it but it won’t be as much fun and recovery will probably be longer, which just means that you won’t have as much time to explore your new surroundings.
  5. Get local knowledge.  If you’re staying in a hotel then this is quite easy, ask the hotel receptionist or concierge if they have a running map.  If they dont tell them that you are looking to go for a run and do they have a local map so they can show you some areas where you can run.  Make sure you get this information as soon as you arrive – then you have no excuse not to go for a run.
  6. Work around your schedule.  If you normally run when you wake up then that can work really well, especially if time zones mean that you’re waking up earlier than the rest of the local population.  It can be great going for a run and then getting back in time to have a shower or swim before breakfast.  Conversely if you’re awake late at night and feel safe then going for a run later at night can also work.  I did both while I was away and both runs were excellent in their own way.
  7. Chill out and enjoy the scenery.  Running in a strange city is a great way to see the sights and watch the city’s pulse as the locals go about their daily business.  Don’t forget to take photos if you see something particularly awesome or interesting and also take note of any good looking cafe’s and restaurants that you want to come back to later.
  8. Enjoy yourself.  You’re away from home, whether for work or on holiday, so don’t get stressed if you don’t seem to be running as well as your normally do.  Changes in diet, sleep patterns, temperature and weather can all affect how you run and there is no point to be gained by getting upset that you’re not running as well as you think you should be.  The fact that you’re running means that you will be maintaining conditioning and you may even see an improvement in performance when you return home even if you don’t feel like you have had the best runs ever.

So there you have it, my tips for running when you are traveling.  If you have any tips to add please add them in the comments section.