Again, apologies: dragging out the holiday and also taking so long to recap the US parkrun!
In the blogging world of health and fitness I know I’m in good company, but in the real world going to the gym and/or running on holiday is absurd. Why go on holiday and tire yourself out with a workout? You’re there to relax and get away from it all, right?
To an extent I agree, but keeping fit and running is part of who I am and to not do that out of choice for two weeks actually isn’t something I’d want to do. Plus there’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying all that good food knowing you’ve got some good fitness going on too (though I can hardly imagine my workouts made a dent in what I ate in Orlando!)
I must admit, the friends we went to Orlando at first thought we were mental. They literally didn’t understand. Jamie even joked he’d stand by the gym window with a cheeseburger waving at us. I felt embarrassed going to the gym or admitting I went for a run, but Ben told me not to be so stupid. It’s just who I am and that’s that.
It was tough at times though as I had to get up very early to go to the gym because we wanted to have breakfast and then get to the parks when they opened (usually 9am). But it was something I was happy to do (and actually helped with the jet lag).
The Jack La Lanna Gym
The gym in the Orlando hotel, Cabana Beach Bay Resort, was incredible. It was huge and very well equipped. It was literally heaven!
It’s funny because even the walk to the gym was a bit of an effort itself as the hotel is huge – it definitely helped with my step count!
I went to the gym equipped with a routine of what I’d do so I wouldn’t waste precious holiday time floating around like a lost cloud.
The gym in Dallas was a lot smaller! Just six machines, free weights and a mat area. But it got the job done. Plus it also helped that it was on the second floor and our room was the 12th floor. I would walk up the stairs after a workout and would be absolutely totalled by the end.
I ran four times in Orlando and once in Dallas.
Orlando was easier because the area around the hotel was very safe and there were long stretches of safe, lit pavements to run along. But it did mean very boringly straight out and back runs.
Obviously the best run was the Orlando parkrun (Clermont Waterfront parkrun).
Stood the wrong way for our “BenAnna” nickname to work…
It was about 30 minutes from our hotel and it started at 7.30am so we left at 6.30am. I assume it starts earlier because of the heat (in fact they start at 7am in summer). Though the temperature was similar to a British spring morning so very pleasant to Ben and me but not to the natives who were shivering in their long leggings 😉 All tourists (in the real sense of the word) signed their names on a board: name, where they came from and their local parkrun location. There were only 55 runners, but the run director I spoke to said in the peak times of summer they can have up to 80, and a lot of international runners like ourselves on holiday. There were clearly lots of regulars as there was banter and a very strong community vibe. The course was explained clearly and we felt extremely welcome and comfortable (while also making friends with some Welsh runners – what a small word, eh?).
The run itself was a sort of out and back and pancake flat. How I wish I had been in good running shape to really blast it…I did give it my all though and it was probably the fastest I’d run in a good few months!
My time was 22:30, third lady – though I definitely felt it (and easy to place well when there are less runners)! I got a horrendous stitch on the last mile though which made breathing difficult. I very rarely get this so it really annoyed me. Ben had a great comeback run too as one of his first parkruns in a while (24:38 – nicely done!). We were graciously invited to the coffee shop afterwards but unfortunately we had to dash back as this was on the Pig Fest day. This was a brilliant parkrun though!
Another great run was in Dallas. We drove out to a beautiful park called White Rock Lake. We decided to aim for an afternoon run as it was just easier, though this did mean I got a bit of a stitch (again) as we had eaten lunch only an hour or so beforehand.
We ran a route alongside the lake and back again (we couldn’t have run the whole way around as it was huge!) and we saw so many other runners, power walkers and dog walkers. It was lovely. The scenery was beautiful and it was just a lovely four mile run. We chatted away and didn’t care about pace.
So there you have it. We kept ourselves relatively fit on holiday but didn’t get stressed about it. I’ve written down some tips below that I found helpful if you were thinking of exercising on holiday, hope they help!
- GYM: Check the hotel has the amenities you want before you book, and see if you can find photos of the gym or reviews from websites like Trip Advisor. I knew that the Dallas gym would be small so I came prepared with lots of workout ideas in case they didn’t have the equipment I needed. I also had a quick look at the gym the evening before I went. I was going to go early the next morning and didn’t want to be surprised by what I found.
- GYM: Different countries use different weight metrics. I made sure before I went I knew what my current kilogram weights were in pounds ready for America.
- GYM: Bring a water bottle. Luckily both gyms had a purified water cooler so I could top my bottle up when I got in there rather than continually buying lots of bottled water.
- GYM: Consider doing some hand-washing in your hotel room. I bought some cheap detergent from a supermarket there and took my ‘smalls’ hanger with me and used the other hangers for bigger items. So I didn’t have to pack a different outfit for every run or gym sesh and I didn’t want sweaty stuff hanging about in my suitcase for days on end.
- RUNNING: Do some research of the area of your hotel. Can you safely run around it? Are there any parks? Orlando was fine (albeit SO boring – long straight roads) but Dallas was in the centre of the city and it would have been a nightmare with the number of traffic light crossings.
- RUNNING: Alternatively, research for nice parks or trail areas to run (best way to see the sights!)
- RUNNING: Bring a charger for your Garmin.
- RUNNING: Know what time sunset/sunrise is so you’re not out in the dark unseen – or bring reflective gear with you.
- And most important: don’t set things in stone. You are after all on holiday and big meals, late nights and upset tummies are likely to happen. If you want to work out and can then great, but if you can’t then don’t beat yourself up about it!
Do you work out on holiday or do you take a complete break?
Have you had any amazing runs in foreign countries?
Do you use hotel gyms?