Top tips for holiday keep-fit motivation!
Holidays aren’t always the easiest times for keep-fit motivation. Hot sun, too many sangrias and an abundance of addictive yet trashy novels can mean that a week or two fly by in foreign climes without so much as a light jog. But I have the answer. Well, actually, I have two answers!
1) Book a cycling holiday in the Pyrenees with madcap cyclist pals.
2) Take your triathlon coach on holiday with you.
After two weeks on holiday I think I may well be fitter than when I left – and that’s despite the booze, fabulous meals, huge snacks, ice creams and a fair amount of lazing around on a beach!
Cycling the Pyrenees like the Tour de France professionals (well sort of!)
The first week of my holiday was spent cycling numerous mountain passes (known as cols) in southern France. I joined a fantastically supported Marmot cycling tour with a group of nine cycling and triathlon friends from Glasgow. If you’ve been following the Tour de France you’ll have seen the pros riding up the long, long ascents of cols such as the Tourmalet, Portet d’Aspet, Luz Ardiden and Hautacam, and the bonkers descents.
During our week we summitted up to 16 moderate to very tough cols. We cycled up and over between two and four cols every day. Every day included many kilometres of riding and hundreds of metres of ascent and descent but each evening we all had huge grins on our faces. My cycling friends (and the determined G-Force) kept me cycling when I thought I could go no further. The fabulous views were always worth the muscle-zapping climbs. And the descents were simply too good to believe! Now that I’m back home I’ll be writing a more in-depth blog about cycling in the Pyrenees. I can’t recommend it more for holiday keep-fit motivation!
From the massive highs to the stunning flats
The second tip for keeping fit during the holidays is to take a vacation with your coach! If you’ve been reading my blog then you’ll know that I am training for the London Triathlon and my friend and coach, the Mighty Vickster, has been my able guide. So who better than to pack in my suitcase for my cycling holiday this year?! Well, actually, the Mighty Vickster is a little too tall to fit in my suitcase so instead she took her own suitcase and bike and enjoyed the same Pyrenean trip, plus an extended holiday in the south-west coastal region of France.
This second week in France could not have been more of a contrast in terms of landscape. From the towering heights of the Pyrenean mountains, five of our Glasgow group headed on to Vieux Baucau, near the famous surfing hotspot of Biarritz, for more cycling and some welcome relaxing.
This area of France offers some of the flattest cycling I’ve ever had the good fortune to find. It is also blessed with a superb network of beautifully tarmacked cycle paths that keep cyclists well away form the road traffic. There are more than 50kms of the pathways, apparently. If flat, safe cycling is for you (and this will be especially true for families) then this area makes a perfect destination. During our week at the coast I saw more people cycling – and the greatest range of ages – than ever before.
Of course, with the Mighty Vickster around I wasn’t going to be allowed to “simply cycle a few flat kilometres”! I had a training programme to follow and a coach to offer instruction and motivation. With only three weeks to go until the London Triathlon itself I was actually very pleased to have someone to give me the motivation for the final training push before I go into the “taper” zone (woohoo!).
Many times on holiday I have promised myself I’ll run or swim to stay in shape. But so often I have given in to a bigger urge to laze around and drink beer. I’ve blamed the sun. I’ve found numerous excuses. I’ve picked up a book and promised myself I’ll exercise later – but somehow haven’t. But I’ve never had my coach with me on holiday before (mainly because I’ve never had a personal coach before!).
During the week staying at a campsite at Vieux Baucau I swam open water, completed a cycle-run brick session, did a 2.5 hour cycle session and even scheduled in a spot of yoga. Added to this I enjoyed a leisurely bike ride to Biarritz (mostly flat and very rarely without a cycle path or lane), as well as two shorter bike rides to go shopping and do touristy stuff.
Despite enjoying lots of lovely meals, mega ice creams, numerous glasses of Ruby Beer (how amazingly delicious!) and cheap, local wine and a fair amount of lazing on the beach while reading good books, I have returned home feeling fitter and healthier than before setting off. That has to be a result!
What tips do you have for healthier holidays?
* Thanks to Eddie-The-Knowledge for his pics.