If you can find room for your running shoes in your suitcase, you won’t regret it. Running overseas is a wonderful way to explore the local area and try out some terrain you might not be used to, such as mountain trails, coastal paths or even deserts! While your fellow holidaymakers are lazing by the pool, you could be jogging along the beach, getting some air into your lungs and making sure that your training routine doesn’t fall by the wayside.
But of course things are different abroad – cultures and conditions vary, so be sure you’re well prepared with the right kit, safety precautions and local knowledge, before heading out into the wilderness.
Us Brits get very excited about not having to don a second layer when heading out on a run! But don’t take the heat of warmer climes too lightly because it’s easy to overheat during aerobic exercise and to suffer heat stroke.
‘Give yourself time to acclimatise to the heat,’ says endurance runner Lizzy Hawker, who leads running camps in the Swiss Alps and has run
all over the world (www.lizzyhawker.com). ‘The ability to sweat allows us to cool our bodies, but circulating blood to the skin to allow this results in a higher heart rate. Give your body time to adapt, by reducing the volume and intensity of your training and paying attention to how your body feels. As you adapt you can gradually build
up pace and distance without over-stressing the body. After all, we run because we enjoy it!’
Ideally plan your holiday runs for early or late in the day, when the temperatures are balmy (rather than baking), when the tourists are still in bed and when you can enjoy the magical light of dawn or dusk.
Of course in some countries, it’s hot 24 hours a day! In such places, take extra safeguards against the heat. ‘Running in very hot places (such as the desert) will dehydrate you extremely fast,’ says Jonathan Wheeler, who leads running tours in and around the desert terrain of Marrakech (www.runninginmorocco.com).
‘Make sure you run with water or a sports drink. Constantly sip before, during and after your run. It’s also a good idea to cover up as much of your body as possible – while this might not seem logical it helps you to keep cool. In Morocco the sun can be intense in the summer so I always wear a hat and a long sleeve top,’ he adds.
Don’t forget to slap on the SPF and make sure it’s a sweat-resistant one, such as the new Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid. In Europe SPF15 is adequate for everyone except those with very fair skin, but in scorching sun, go for SPF25 or 30.
If you’re holidaying in a beautiful mountainous area, such as the Alps, a spot of hill running is irresistible. But be aware that fells are tougher than flat paths and in the heat they will tax you even more. Go slowly and keep stopping for breathers.
If you’re off to one of the world’s higher mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas or the Rockies, take precautions against altitude sickness. ‘Acclimatisation to high altitude requires time and patience,’ says Lizzy. ‘Above 3,000m only increase by 300m per day. Drink lots of fluids and listen to your body. Even if you’re in a mountain range below 3,000m, you may still feel the effects of altitude, and thus need to run at a lower intensity than usual until you acclimatise.’
CULTURES AND CUSTOMS
Hopefully one day in the future, women’s bodies won’t be fetishized anywhere. But in the world we live in today, some countries take a strong view of us running a 10K in next to nothing. Make sure that you are very, very careful about what you wear if you’re jogging in a Muslim country.
‘While you should wear what is comfortable for you, it is also wise to respect the local culture,’ advises Jonathan. ‘Women run in shorts and t-shirts in Marrakech, but admittedly they are not too short or too tight. If you were running outside of a big Moroccan city, such as a village, it would be wise to wear tracksuit bottoms.’
If you’re not familiar with the area, do all you can to stay safe. Buy a map or ask a local to draw one and if you’re heading out into remote areas, such as a forest, take a running buddy with you. At the very least carry a phone and tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. If you’re running along the coast, stay away from cliff edges and find out the tide times before powering along the sand.
With all those safety boxes ticked, you can have peace of mind and enjoy that glorious holiday running.
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