Training for a race? How to take your training on holiday

why you should be running on holiday

If you've been training hard, chances are you're looking forward to a little relaxation and indulgence. But if you go on holiday and leave your training schedule at home, you could be in for a shock when you return. According to Olympic triathlete Jodie Swallow, every week you take off will put your training back by two weeks.

Related: An essential guide to running on holiday 

"If you completely stop, your body switches off," she says. "This is fine at the end of the racing season when you need a break, but not bang in the middle when you're competing. Even if you do only a little exercise each day, it will minimise the effect of lost training."

Why you should be running on holiday?

Without the usual distractions of working life, a holiday provides the perfect opportunity to head out for some long, easy runs - and just think how much more you'll enjoy relaxing by the pool if you've just done a holiday 10K.

It's always worth packing your trainers because you can probably run no matter where you are on holiday. Go out early in the morning, when it is usually cooler, the air is cleaner and you can check out places of interest to visit later in the day with the family. 

Can't run? Cross train. 

If you're worried about heading out on your own, why not turn your attention to swimming? If hotel pool is on the small side, don't worry: Mark Kleanthous, an elite member of the Great Britain Triathlon Team, suggests using a swimming cord that you attach to the side of the pool and around your waist to create a kind of swimming treadmill. "If you think this might be boring, think again," says Kleanthous. "You can practise sprints or do endurance work: I've completed a 60-minute session in the corner of a hotel pool."

You could also practise your open-water skills if you're by the sea. You can still play around in the waves and have plenty of fun, but at the same time you will become used to running into the sea. As Swallow explains, this skill will help you reach the beach much quicker in a race, and it's great fun for all the family. She also recommends swimming along the shore, with waves coming at you from the side. By the end of your holiday you should find that your technique and confidence have improved dramatically.

If you're more of a landlubber than a water baby, hire a bike and invite the family for a spin. If you feel they're holding you up, there are various techniques you can use to ensure you still enjoy a decent workout.

"Ride in an easy gear to increase your cadence, so you that you're spinning the pedals much faster than everyone else," suggests Steve Gershon, coach for Cambridge Triathlon Club and Hoddesdon Swimming Club. "Most people struggle with upping their cadence, so it's a great opportunity to improve your pedalling skills."

Why running on the beach isn't always a great idea -  

Running on the beach can be a lot of fun, although you need to be careful when jogging in deep or soft sand as it can put a strain on the Achilles if this is a problem area. Kleanthous suggests walking as much as possible while on holiday, as most of us spend far too much time in everyday life sitting in front of a computer or behind the wheel of a car.

Related: Here's the difference between calories burned walking vs running 

"Walking is underrated," he says. "It can be demanding: an 81kg person will burn around 100 calories per mile. If you find it hard to run below 65 per cent of your maximum heart rate, now is your chance to exercise at a lower heart rate, which will improve your fat-burning ability."

What a nutritionist eats on holiday: 

As tempting as it might be to dive head first into the all-inclusive buffet, take care not to consume more calories than you need. An extra 500 calories a day can add up to about an extra kilogramme in two weeks. Self-catering is a good option as you can have at least one healthy, nutritious meal a day and then treat yourself when eating out. If you're staying in a hotel, it can be hard to resist the delicious spread in the morning - especially when you've already paid for it - but limiting yourself to smaller portions can help. Delicacies such as local pastries might not look big, but they could be loaded with fats and calories, and won't leave you satisfied for long.

Claire Loades, a registered nutritionist who specialises in sports nutrition, recommends eating fresh fruit and yoghurt instead, which can still feel like a treat, or eggs, an excellent breakfast. At lunch and dinner there are a number of ways you can easily save calories without forgoing taste. "Avoid vegetables with added butter, anything deep-fried, and ask for sauces and dressings on the side," she says. "The best approach is to eat like the locals, as this is often simple but delicious food that hasn't been dressed up for tourists."

As for desserts, local fruit is a great option but if you fancy a cold, refreshing treat on the beach, decline the ice cream and opt instead for a sorbet or fruit-based lolly. "I manage to eat better when I'm away, thanks to the abundance of healthy, fresh, sun-ripened fruit and veg," says Swallow.

Of course, the most important thing is that you enjoy your holiday, but by following a few simple guidelines you can come back fitter, fresher and ready to take on the rest of the season's running.