If you'd have spoken to me a few years ago, I’d have laughed in your face if you'd asked me about running at all, let alone when on holiday! At that time, holidays for me were all about sheer relaxation and pure indulgence.
My idea of a great holiday was parking my rear end on some sun-drenched hot spot, by the side of a pool, plugging in my ear phones and perhaps burying myself in a good book. If I’d have worn my Garmin sports watch back then, it would have been screaming at me to <<MOVE>> because of my extremely low step count.
From zero to hero
Fast forward a few years when, in a moment of madness, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up to run the ‘Run to the Beat’ London half marathon, all in aid of charity. Being a complete novice to running, or any exercise for that matter, I hadn’t a clue as to just how difficult it might be or, indeed, how rewarding it could be to run. So in just four months I went from nothing - and when I say nothing I mean I couldn’t run for two minutes let alone two hours - to completing my first half marathon with a respectable time of two hours and 24 minutes. It was from here that my love of running first began.
Since then I’ve become quite taken with the sport and regularly hit the pavements around my local village and the surrounding area. I am very fortunate in living close to some beautiful rural countryside and I am often able to enjoy the sound of birds chirping and take in the views of spectacular rolling landscapes along my runs.
It was during training for the Uventure 12km obstacle run that I first had to think about running while on holiday. With our once-in-a-lifetime family trip to the Maldives planned for just a week before the event, I could not afford to do slack off entirely for ten whole days!
So reluctantly I packed my running gear, alongside the sun cream and mosquito repellent, and made sure I was prepared to run on holiday. Well, nothing could have prepared me for the running conditions in the Maldives. I mean how could it? The climate and terrain in the Maldives being somewhat different to what I was used to in the UK, it was a completely different experience.
Firstly running on sand - while truly giving the most stunning view - is very hard on the legs! Ten minutes of running on the sand felt harder than an hour of running on the road. No wonder three-time winner of the UK Grand National Steeple Chase Race, Red Rum, trained on the Southport Sands! So I quickly learned to run as close to the water’s edge as possible, trying not to wet my trainers, to benefit from the firmer surface.
Add to that the intermittent rocky breakwaters which, while they brought variety to the run and were particularly beneficial in preparing me for the upcoming obstacles I was about to endure, they were also a challenge to be overcome, with their slippery surface and jagged rough edges.
Finally the climate. With it being so warm I tried to plan my runs for early morning or later in the evening to enjoy the cooler weather before the sun was at its hottest, or as it was going down. Even without the sun, the Maldives is humid and warm, and so it was a struggle regardless. Luckily the island was very well equipped with refrigerated water stations frequently dotted along the coastline - a real life saver!
Despite the run being considerably more challenging, I’d never felt so good! The views were out-of-this-world and the feeling of overcoming the unexpected challenges made it all worthwhile! Plus I still got to sit by the ocean and enjoy the all-inclusive indulgences but this time without any guilt - a real bonus! I’d say that the Maldives is unquestionably one of my favourite running experiences.
Since this holiday, I now pack my trainers wherever I go! I’ve been lucky enough to run around places such as the east coast of Spain, Dublin in Ireland, Central Park in New York, Devon in England and more!
My top tips for running on a beach holiday:
1. Make sure you plaster on the sunscreen. I know it sounds obvious but it’s so easy to forget to apply the good stuff at the crack of dawn, when it really doesn’t feel that hot. The sun can be deceptive and those rays pack a punch. You really don’t want to be trying to get that tight sports bra off with sunburnt shoulders!
2. Check out the routes in advance. Most route planners these days are global and you can find some decent routes in the strangest of places. But just in case you do find yourself lost during your run, make sure you rehearse the address of where you’re staying, or have it on your mobile, so that you can ask for help!
3. If you’re travelling specifically for a running event, such as the Lanzarote International Marathon, and are not planning on taking any hold luggage with you, remember that you can only take 100ml of liquids as hand luggage. I once watched on helplessly as some poor guy unloaded his backpack full of hydro-gels into the bin because they were over the 100ml limit. Don’t make the same mistake! Plan ahead and if not putting your luggage into the hold make sure you find out if you can buy the products when you get there, or at the very least if you can buy within the 100ml limit here.
4. Hydrate! You may be able to run easily without water for ten kilometres or more in the UK, but in the heat with the sun beaming down on your neck I’d advise you not to take the risk and carry some water with you. Or, if you hate the idea of that, plan to incorporate a shop along your running route and take some change with you to grab a bottle of water.
5. Take your camera. Sure it can be annoying having to carry your phone with you during a run, but seriously, some of those views you just can’t get back home and it's the best way to record your experience. I know I’ve always regretted leaving mine behind and I’ve got some great snaps from my runs abroad when I've had it with me.
6. Don’t forget you’re on holiday, so enjoy it! Drop your pace a little or reduce the distance and don’t be so hard on yourself. Holidays are about fun, so make sure you try to allow for fun in your running plans.
If you would like to give running on holiday a go, then click on the button below to check out the RCI Resort Directory. You'll find thousands of holiday destinations around the world where you can put your trainers, run and enjoy the view.
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