Staying fit can be challenging when you’re away on holiday. Here’s how – and why – I try to keep at it.

POSTED BY PINKY

You know the drill. You go on that trip you’ve been dreaming of. Then you come home and realise you probably ate and drank a tad – okay, a lot – more than you should have. 

Remorse sets in and you decide it’s time to head back to the gym or get back to your fitness routine. But sometimes, it’s easier said than done. Specially when you come home faced with loads of work or worse, suffering from jet lag. Jumping back into your routine seems to be taking so much more out of you, you wonder how you ever allowed yourself to lose your momentum. 

Just Bring It

One thing I do that works for me: bringing along my running gear on trips. Why running? Because it’s free and I get to see the city at the same time. Without the crowds.

Since we like to travel in the cooler months, this usually means having to pack warm clothes. Which means my luggage is already heavier than usual as it is, and packing any more stuff would mean less space (and weight) to accommodate other things I might find while shopping. 

Individually, my running shoes, tops and bottoms, jacket, cap, gloves, and socks may feel light. Put them together, however, and they do add up. 

And therein lies the secret to staying committed. 

Make it Worth its Weight

You see where this is going, right? 

By this time, I figure I’d given up too much precious space and weight (oh, the stuff I could have bought to fill my bag in its place!) that I’d better not waste having brought these darn running things in the first place!

So, I go out and run.

The city beckons…..

Set a Realistic Goal 

My goal is simply to run at least once in each city that I spend the night in. I’m far from being a serious runner, so for me, there’s no need to go all or nothing here. Mixing it up with brisk walking is fine, too. I’m on vacation, remember? 

The point is to be able to do it some of the time just so you don’t lose the momentum of whatever fitness routine you were on before your trip. Besides, we usually do a lot of walking on trips, so I count that as part of my efforts to staying fit as well.

Plan Your Route 

Before a trip, I survey the area surrounding wherever it is we’re staying, usually on Google Maps, then I confirm actual site conditions on my first day in that city, mentally figuring out my route. 

My favourite places are major pedestrian areas, like the length of the Rambla in Barcelona (ran here with my husband on one visit, then with my Spain girlfriends on another) or the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence. Even the deck of a cruise ship works. These grounds are more even and are easier on the feet. Cobbled roads add to the challenge but the possibility of twisting an ankle does exist, so beware. We’re trying to stay fit here, not hurt ourselves and ruin the entire vacation.

    

What I haven’t done yet, though, is run all by myself in a park. I think I watch way too much Crime TV to feel comfortable about doing that. One day, perhaps. With mace. Or after lessons in Krav Maga. Too much? 

Document your Run

I do get a kick out of knowing I’ve run here and there. It encourages me to keep at it. And the best way to remember these moments is not only through photographs but also by having the actual route (thanks to GPS) saved in my favourite running app. 

A short run in Aix while my husband went out shopping for breakfast at the market.
Running with a Mate or Alone

Traveling with my husband or girlfriends helps in staying committed because running is generally more fun as you discover a different side to a city together. It becomes a shared memory. Running in numbers is safer for female travelers, too. 

But running alone has its joys as well. Getting lost in one’s own thoughts or really taking in details of a city that you might otherwise have missed isn’t such a bad thing either. 

Running along the banks of a river is great option, too. Here along the banks of the River Rhone in Avignon.

Rewards, Rewards 

It’s all a mind game, really. There have been days – more of them, in fact – when I felt I’d rather sleep in instead of head out for a run. The excuses are endless when you’re home, more so when you’re on vacation.

But I just think about the rewards I get everytime I do it, and it takes me a step closer to the door. 

The most obvious, of course, is staying fit and making up for over-indulging way too many times.

Another is getting a glimpse into life as a local. It’s something most tourists wouldn’t have or make time for but it’s certainly an interesting way to experience a genuine side to any destination. One run (or brisk walk) in each city is all I need and I’m good. And if I miss the mark, that’s okay. 

But the best reward for me is watching the city unfold right before my very eyes and seeing it wake up to a whole new day. 

An ordinary day for most, perhaps. But for me, it’s a day I get the satisfaction knowing that for those few precious minutes, the city was all mine

The Cours Mirabeau. All mine…