Running while on holiday is one of those things that divides opinion. I have no research or quantitative data to prove this but it certainly divides mine.
Every year that we go on holiday I’m faced with the dilemma of whether to run or not. On one hand, I spend almost every week of the year pounding the pavements of Birmingham. Running amid the countryside and coastline of Cornwall instead sounds like an unmissable treat; the sort of run I dream of. On the other hand, I’m on holiday – a time to rest and relax (in as much as this is possible at all with a six year-old, which is to say pretty much impossible) and allow myself lie-ins and cheat-eating treats. Rest is important, and there has to be at least some down-time during the year.
In the past, I’ve done both. Several years ago we went to Cornwall during the week of a race (the trip was booked month previously and we hadn’t realised there would be a conflict). So I had no choice but to run during the week, then drive home on the Saturday and race on the Sunday. I did my usual early-morning runs before any of the campers were up, and the few staff that were around looked at me as though I was bonkers. Conversely, last year we went on holiday and, though I considered it, I didn’t run.
This year I decided to give myself the treat of the early-morning sunrise-over-the-sea run. So I packed my running kit. And I’m so glad I did. If any proof were needed of the explosion in popularity of running, I must have seen at least fifteen or twenty other holidaymakers running during the week we were away, and no-one batted an eyelid. If I hadn’t been able to run too the run-envy and feeling of licentious idleness would have been unbearable.
I did three runs during the week, and threw in some press-ups and pull-ups too (on the monkey bars on the children’s play area before anyone was around). I allowed myself to stop and take photos, which I would never normally do during intense and focused full-on regular training runs.
I set off for a four-mile bimble along the valley trail that turned into a tempo run of almost exactly 10K because I was enjoying myself so much.
The next day my wife and daughter hired bikes from the cycle-hire place at the head of the trail; they cycled and I ran alongside. Slow and gentle.
And at the end of the week I went out to run some hills and a different trail cutting across the valley, running nine beautiful miles in the countryside and early-morning sunshine. I took in a mile or two of the South West Coast Path during this run. I would have run further but I was trying to be a good countryside citizen. I had some company on the trail ahead of me in the form of a dozen or more sheep who’d got out from their field through a gap in their fence. They were running away from me and the further I ran, the more I was taking them away from their field. This doesn’t happen in Birmingham.
In fact, as you can see from the photos, none of these were the sort of runs which happen in Birmingham. And I loved them.