Herceg Novi drjulietmcgrattan.com

Do you pack your running kit when you go on holiday or do you leave it in the drawer at home? Is your time out of normal life a chance to run more or to run less, rest up and do ‘other stuff’?

I always take my kit with me but I never know if I’m going to actually use it! My holiday is a time when I really just want to do whatever I feel like and that may or may not include running. Of course, I know all the benefits that running gives me. I know I’ll feel accomplished, energised and relaxed after a run. I know that I won’t lose my fitness and also that I can use it as a chance to explore a new area. But, sometimes it’s good to be lazy, have no pressure and take a break. Personally, when I pack my kit into my case, I honestly don’t know whether it will get used and I’m fine with that. Zero guilt. It’s always a ‘let’s see’ situation.

This year we headed to Montenegro for a couple of weeks. To avoid any holiday, suitcase, airport delays and dramas, we went hand luggage only (we often do to be honest). I’ve mastered the art of getting all my running kit inside my trainers so it doesn’t take up much room. Sports bra, socks and watch in one shoe, running dress and sunglasses in the other. Oh, and a cap – I can’t squeeze that in a shoe! I packed running stuff but didn’t know if I would use it or even if I wanted to use it.

Running on holiday often involves running in the heat. Montenegro was HOT. I struggle to run when it gets to 30 degrees and it was that temperature by 08:30am and didn’t drop below that until very late at night. This meant the only running window I had was before 8am, which is 7am UK time. Would I, should I set an alarm and get up early or should I just enjoy some over due lie-ins?

I’ve had holidays when I haven’t run at all, others where I’ve gone out once or twice and a couple where I’ve run a lot (usually in the UK!) This year, I decided not to set an alarm and just see when I woke up. My body clock decided to stay on my usual routine so when I was awake at 6:30am looking out of the window at a stunning view I figured I might as well go running!

Herceg Novi drjulietmcgrattan.com

There were 350 steps down through the old town of Herceg Novi to a paved promenade along the seafront – perfect for running. Early in the morning it was pretty quiet so there weren’t too many people to dodge. The sun wasn’t high in the sky but it was still between 26 and 30 degrees every morning. This makes it hard going so I just viewed it as good training! Most days either my son or my husband, or both, came with me. We all realised that 5k was about as much as we could handle in these conditions. I don’t think I could have run over half an hour, even slowly, without keeling over.

There were a few other runners – not many, I suspect most were running at 5am when it was much cooler. As usual, I said hello to all of them. The majority ignored me but there were a few who gave me a raised eyebrow or quick wave of the hand to acknowledge and encourage each other.

The best bit? Pulling off my running dress and jumping in the sea in my pants and sports bra at the end. Simply delicious! I could feel my body temperature returning to normal and it cooled me enough to face the 350 steps back up to the house afterwards! Stopping to buy fresh croissants for breakfast at the bakery was an added bonus.

Herceg Novi drjulietmcgrattan.com

I ended up running six times in 12 days which is more than I’ve run on holiday before but I loved it. I didn’t go far or fast and only had two routes – left or right on the prom- but many running memories were made.

To top it all off, the day after I got home, I went to parkrun on another prom, from Montenegro to Morecambe and ran my fastest time this year. The high heart rate, threshold runs in the heat and the endless step climbing through the town paid off.

Another year I know I might not run. I might opt to look at that view and not sweat it out. I try to have a good relationship with running. I do it because I want to and not because I feel I ‘need’ to. This was what my body wanted this year and that’s fine with me.

I would love to know if you run on holiday? Do you go with the intention of doing lots of runs and it’s a big part of the holiday? Do you feel guilty if you don’t run? Do you set your alarm or just go with the flow like I did this year? Tell me in the comments or on social media.

Dr Juliet McGrattan

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    1. Some days we did them three or four times. I just tried to feel grateful and see them as a workout. I’ve definitely gained some leg strength!

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