Took a few days off work at the end of last week, and used the opportunity to take a short city break to Madrid. It was a welcome break (and a good chance to eat far too much jamon) from the stresses of work and daily life – but not from running.
Before I left several people mentioned to me about using the short trip to have a break from running. You know, because a holiday is all about rest and relaxation, or something. I don’t get it. Frankly, I love going running when I’m on holiday.
So on a four-day jaunt to Madrid, I braved the heat (and it was very hot) to do things like this.
So why? Why not just enjoy a proper break?
For starters: guilt-free eating. Well, relatively guilt-free eating anyway. When I’m on holiday I want to try new food and eat what takes my fancy. That usually means a richer, less healthy diet than usual (as well as the aforementioned jamon there was some lovely steak, a few chunks of cheese, lots of olive and the odd ice cream or two. Okay, three. Well, maybe four…). Going running helps burn off those extra calories, and eases the guilt.
Another, even better reason: going running is a great way to see new places. Admittedly, it can be difficult to work out where to run. In Madrid I was staying just off the Gran Via – Madrid’s equivalent of Oxford Street. It was a brilliant central location, but it did mean whichever direction I headed from my hotel involved some running along very crowded shopping streets.
But once I’d got past the bustle of the Gran Via, my various outings took me past the Palacio Royal, around the Templo de Debod, into the Parque del Oeste, across the Plaza de Cibeles, beside the Puerta de Alcala and into the Parque de El Retiro. It made a welcome change from running around largely the same streets and footpaths in south west London. Heck, I even stopping running at a few points and took a photo on my phone – so you know the views must have been good.
It’s not just Madrid that has offered me the chance to run past some interesting sights. In Berlin last year I got to explore the Tiergarten. On a trip to visit my brother in Texas last year I took a detour to Corpus Christi, which had a very pleasant seafront to run along.
And yes, if the overhead map isn’t entirely clear, I got to run past an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier! Again, you can’t do that in Richmond-upon-Thames.
So why run on holiday? Well, why not? You’ve got extra time since you’re not in work, it’s a chance to run in spectacular new places and it reduces the guilt of holiday gastronomy gluttony…
Oh, and even on holiday it appears I can’t escape the weird guilt/jealousy caused by ‘running FOMO’: spotting a race you hadn’t entered. On my final morning in Madrid, having already done my 5k run for the day, I was passing Plaza de Cibeles and noticed people walking the other direction in running kit, with numbers on their chests? What race was this? How had I missed the chance to do a race in Spain?!
It took me a while, but I found the answer after a bit of rummaging around the internet once I got home. The race was the MetLife Madrid Active, with a route that started near the Bernabeu stadium in the north of the city. It sounded fantastic.
My jealous levels began to rocket… and then I noticed it was a 15km race. 15km? In the intense Madrid heat? No thanks – I was on holiday, after all…