Running training on holidays – balance is the key

Those readers struggling to keep up your running whilst in the grip of a cold southern winter might want to avoid this post. Lisa Biffin, currently relaxing in the sunny Maldives, provides some tips and hints for keeping motivated and enjoying some much needed training variety when on holidays. Oh to have such a big problem to deal with!

Running in paradise by Lisa Biffin

In today’s busy society many of us work in the traditional 9 to 5++ work week and do our best to juggle our training around many commitments. So when we finally take a vacation sometimes our training and motivation goes out the window. We revel in the fact there is no alarm to startle us out of bed in the morning and allow our bodies to catch up on those quality hours of sleep that are a non-existent luxury during the working week. As we power down, mind and body can rebel, making the thought of pounding the pavement running on our vacation seem somewhat grating and more of a chore.

It is a happy coincidence that I write this article looking out from my ocean fronted villa in one of the most luxurious places on earth, the Maldives. Yes, I am actually on holidays. However I fit perfectly into the stereotype of 9 to 5 (usually a lot more) worker, squeezing training around work, endless travel commitments, work functions, social outings, the list goes on. So when I finally arrived in this little piece of paradise, whilst excited by the prospect of having the time to train, my body was also craving some down time.

Allow your body and mind to mend – whilst remaining active

To me a holiday is simply not a reason to sit in one spot and never move again. As a very active individual I thoroughly enjoy being able to exercise. So I find being on holidays a fantastic way to remain fit and active and give my body, mentally and physically a chance to repair itself.

Naturally holidays for everyone take a variety of forms from the super extreme sporting holidays to the lesser heart pumping retreats such as your ocean getaways filled with sunbathing and plenty of afternoon naps. However, whatever form your holiday may take there are plenty of options right at your fingertips that will ensure you remain active and don’t lose fitness or form whilst on your break.

Dependent on your holiday destination there could be some great forms of exercise available that provide variety from your strict training regime and ensure you maintain a decent level of fitness. Although as runners we often feel we have not exercised unless you crank out those daily miles, a holiday could be a good chance for your body to enjoy some much needed cross training to keep dreaded injuries at bay.

While it may not seem helpful at the time, cross-training during your holiday break could be a great way to prevent injury. Ongoing soreness from daily training can creep up on us and without allowing the body time to heal, these small niggles may result in a much larger problem. Some non running exercise in the first few days of your break can be a great way to set the scene.

Long easy running

Probably my favourite form of holiday activity is getting up early, putting on my runners, grabbing my camera and heading out to the streets to discover them by foot. I have absorbed many cities in the world this way and often get to check out some of the main attractions long before the hordes of tourists show up. It is also a great way to get in those few extra easy kilometres and ensure your base fitness is still intact.

Strides and run-throughs

Missing your group training session can be difficult and getting yourself motivated to do repetition 400m on your own is no easy task. To ensure you keep up your speed and style without having to feel guilty about not being able to find a suitable oval or running track nearby, add in 4 to 6 100m strides at the end of a long run. You can vary this up by finding a nice moderate hill to do repeats up while practicing good technique and maintaining strength.


If you are staying in a resort of by the beach then swimming is a great way to keep up your fitness.  Especially if you have children, you can swim a few laps whilst they play in the pool.

Pool or ocean running

Don’t think of pool or ocean running as simply a rehabilitation tool. Getting out enjoying some warm weather in the pool or ocean while doing some gentle running or even a water running session can be great for your body. It is also a good way to spend some time thinking about technique and muscle activation patterns while you are not obsessing over certain splits and lap times.


If staying at a resort, check out the activities timetable. Many resorts and holiday villages run yoga classes in the morning and evenings. Often a stretching routine is something that is overlooked as runners find stretching a tedious and boring task. So treat your mind and muscles to some yoga.


Never underestimate walking.  Although not as intense as running, the benefits from walking can be equally as good for maintaining fitness. On holidays the ability to be able to walk 5 to 10 kilometres a day, especially around big cities, is a great way to get out and see things closely on foot but also maintain that base fitness.

Sand running

If your holiday destination has you located in beach-side paradise, make sure you make good use of the sand. Many of us do not live in close proximity to a beach so take this time to get in some sand running. Don’t dive right into a 10 kilometre jog, but start off gently, maybe 1 to 2 kilometres or 10 to 15 minutes per day, or do some barefoot strides in firm sand after a longer run. Holidays are a good time to experiment with a few barefoot running baby steps.

Gym work or body weight workout

Use some of your downtime to visit the resort gym or if there is no accessible gym nearby some simple 10 minute body weight workouts will also suffice. Consider putting together small circuits of about 30 minutes with light weights and high repetitions. If you are looking for an easier option a 10 minute workout of some body weight squats, step-ups, planking and dynamic bridging is also a good way to maintain the strength needed to run with proper technique.


You don’t need to be signed up to the Tour de France to enjoy the benefits of cycling. You also don’t necessarily need a racing bike either. There are many cities around the world that are bike friendly and many of the locals are active cyclists and use cycling as their main mode of transportation. For runners cycling may be tough, given the different muscle groups used, however it is also a nice way to maintain cardiovascular fitness but get off your legs for a little while.

Conclusion: chill out and let the waves of relaxation guide your training

So when you are on your next holiday simply tear up that training regime and allow yourself to indulge in some much needed rest, cross training and different forms of running. You do not have to stick to a regimented training structure, simply enjoy your vacation and use the time to unwind and let your body heal. You’ll arrive back home refreshed and ready enough to resume hard training.

Words and images by Lisa Biffin

3 Responses to Running training on holidays – balance is the key

  1. Charles June 19, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Great article Lisa and thanks Brian for putting it on the website so we could all share. Lots of valid points raised by Lisa. From experience I can relate to the being away from your normal running environment and thinking how hard is this to keep up and progress on all the hard work that you have invested into your running.

    In a new place running/walking is a an excellent way to explore an area. Yes it will be slower generally, but just relax and enjoy being somewhere different.

    The idea of cross training and yoga is another good point. For me the bottom line is, see the holiday and adjusted training as just another phase in your training program. See it as a time to recharge the body, do enough to keep the base, and experiment with a few new things while you have the time from the workplace.

    Enjoy the warm sun and a beautiful environment Lisa. Try and not think too much of us poor sools freezing away here in Central Victoria.


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