Cunning wordplay? What kind of a trick am I pulling here? No, it’s just a simple question; which is better – holiday running, or a running holiday?
In the last month I’ve been fortunate enough to visit France on three separate occasions – I know, I know, France would be great if it weren’t for all the French people ha-de-haha.
One of those trips was a short work trip enjoyed by myself and the wife in Paris – I know, perks of the job, eh?
Another was our family holiday. Lynds and I returned to Paris to explore and enjoy the city on our own terms.
The first trip, however, was very different indeed!
The Trail Running Team trip to Chamonix was wonderful, it was the opportunity to meet like-minded people and share in our hobby together. To eat, sleep and talk about running to our hearts content and not have anyone around us to think we’re a bit bizarre for wanting to wake up at 4am so that we might run in the dark! The running holiday is an excellent way to find new areas of the globe. Whilst you might go running whilst on holiday and explore your local area a bit, the use of local knowledge that is provided by a guide on a running-specific holiday will allow you to see some real gems which you are likely to have missed if you trudge out on your own.
I’ve done training camps in the past. Twice we visited Les Stables triathlon training in France. The first time was definitely a holiday for Lyndsey and I, and on a couple of occasions I joined with the rest of the group for a short run or swim. We had a great time, and at the time I wasn’t the athlete I am now so I was happy to not join in the sporting activities. The second time we went I hired a bike, I went on the group rides, the runs, the morning river swims. It was fantastic. But, Lyndsey still wasn’t an athlete and I couldn’t help but feel like I was leaving her out .
It’s really important to find a balance.
On the work trip, where our flights and hotel had been paid for and it was a last minute thing, I had no hesitation to go out for a run whilst I was there. It was an amazing way to check out the city and I enjoyed running through the Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower, along the seine to Pont Neuf, crossed the Ile de la Cite and ran across Place de la Concorde and all the way along the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. Amazing. And because we weren’t there for a holiday we didn’t have many plans so I didn’t feel I was depriving Lynds of a good time whilst I explored the city.
Things were different though on our most recent trip to the French capital. Having paid a good amount of money on our annual holiday with plans to spend 5 days in the city exploring art galleries and enjoying the climax of the Tour de France. This added pressure to my running in that I didn’t want to miss out on these things, and I didn’t want Lyndsey to suffer as a result. The heat added a whole other dimension to the problem that might not normally be present. No matter what time of the day I thought about running it was excessively hot! Spending much of my time on my feet exploring also meant that my legs were tired, and not sleeping thanks to the heat meant that I didn’t get up early enough in the morning. During the 5 days away I managed one early morning run. It was hot! But it was another example of learning the lie-of-the-land. I ran past the Pompidou Centre, the Town Hall and then the Notre Dame Cathedral. It meant that when I went back to the apartment I was able to map out our route for the day’s exploration.
Running whilst on holiday is a fantastic way to see the local area, but you need to get your priorities right, and when you are only 3 weeks from the biggest race in your life this can be really tricky to get a grasp of. Running (or training) holidays can be worth their weight in gold if you get to explore a place you’ve always wanted to go. The training I’ve enjoyed with Tracks and Trails in Chamonix, and Les Stables in the Dordogne region of France have enabled me to see some phenomenal sights and incredible trails. I get the impression that somewhere like Club la Santa (a popular triathlon camp) is probably less scenic and more all about the training effect you get. But you don’t have to go overseas – go explore a new part of the country with someone like Stuart Mills who has set up trail running weekends in Sussex this year.
Where have you explored whilst running on holiday?
Do you prefer a running holiday, or running on your holiday?