Photograph by Reg Caldecott

Holiday on the run!


Running while on holiday can be a pain… and even the most dedicated runners find it difficult sticking to a training programme during the Festive Period and time away from work – even us pro runners. It is tough to stay motivated to keep putting your running shoes on and hitting the road while the rest of the nation is in a laid back festive mood. – BY RENÉ KALMER

With the Olympic Games only nine months away, this December/January holiday won't be any different from all my previous ‘running holidays.’ Luckily I realised from a very young age that training during the holidays gave me the competitive advantage for the New Year's athletic season, and I have also been really lucky to have my sister Christine as my travelling training partner for many years. She grew up thinking that this is what we do on holidays… train, and train some more! (Whereas my brother Herman soon realised that there are better things to keep busy with while on holiday.) The Kalmer family are ‘happy campers’ and most holidays were planned making sure that there was enough good training terrain nearby. An athletics track close by was always an added bonus.

My main focus while on holiday is rather on maintaining my fitness, versus gaining fitness. I'm also very flexible about my approach to training on holiday, because there is no way that you are going to find a track to do speed sessions while on holiday in Zanzibar or Mozambique. Another handy hint is to remember to pack in your club kit and licence numbers, and check out the racing schedule for local races or parkruns at your holiday destination, as there may be some great organised runs you can participate in.

Getting it Done
First, you have to accept the fact that you have to keep training while on holiday, especially with the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon being almost a month earlier next year (26th of March, due to Easter moving each year) and its qualifying cut-off at the end of February. So, best you get up early and get your training done and dusted before breakfast. It might be a bit ‘traumatic’ for you to get up early while on holiday, especially if you are not a morning person, (like my hubby Andre), but I promise that you will feel great for the rest of the day. It is also a great idea to end your run close to the nearest water. Dipping in the pool or ocean is a great way to recover after a run.

A new environment, different climate or terrain can be some of the challenges we face while on holiday. I always try to see these ‘challenges’ as an adventure to be creative with my running. Combining running with sightseeing is the best way to explore a new city or holiday destination. Just remember that it is best to get some local advice in advance about possible running routes and which areas to avoid, for your safety. It is also important to focus on some markers on your run, as it can be a little disastrous when you get lost and have to find your way back, especially if in a foreign country where you don’t speak the local language… It is also a great time to experiment with different types of running, like hitting some trails in the mountains or forests. Personally, I stay away from running on the beach during holidays, as the unstable surface can sometimes lead to injuries.

Use Your Time Wisely
Even if you are staying home this holiday, you can use the extra hours you have at hand to boost your fitness. It is a great time to focus on the areas we may have neglected during the year, like cross-training and rehab exercises. You can even behave like a professional runner and work in some afternoon naps after a morning run! But if you only have a little time available this holiday for training, rather do shorter runs. Remember, something is better than nothing, so some running is better than no running!

Happy Holidays! Whether you run, race, rest or recover, make it count!