It’s that time of year again when the healthy eating is challenged and the running / exercise schedule is disrupted: family holiday time.

This year our normal holiday plans were curtailed as The Son is preparing for his 11+ exams so we did not head off for a beach holiday. Instead we spent a few days in Wales for a family wedding and then took the Eurostar across to Paris to stay for a couple of nights for Mrs Dan to meet up with an old Japanese university friend who was visiting France with her husband.

My running kit was duly packed into my bag for the first part of our mini break and my intentions were to stick to my healthy diet (as much as possible). It’s always tricky trying to maintain my level of training during a family holiday and I pretty much resign myself to the word “maintain” rather than “improve” or “build on”, which would be my normal response.

We made it to Wales but sadly my running kit stayed in the bag and did not get to see any action. I was especially disappointed when we drove past a local 10k early one morning, which just brought back into focus my pining for a run. I was called into action to help at various parts of the wedding but on the positive side I did mostly avoid all the bad food and there was no full English / Welsh breakfast for me at the hotel.

In Paris I gave up on the idea of going for a run, although the location and weather would have been ideal, because we were there for such a short stay and the focus was on Mrs Dan meeting up with her friend. We did have a really nice time but again I gazed with jealousy at all the runners making use of the fantastic public areas in central Paris.

So I failed at “maintaining” any type of exercise during this holiday but what tips do I have for combining training with a holiday?

  1. Communicate & Agree: discuss with your significant other just what will work for everyone on a family holiday. Last year we went to Portugal and we talked about it beforehand and agreed that there would be no problem with me heading out for an early morning run and then joining the family for breakfast. I made use of the cooler temperature, no family time was impacted, and as a bonus I explored the surrounding area for places we might want to go back and visit together.
  2. Combine: sometimes it might not be possible to head out for a run so see what other options there are. On previous trips we have spent family days out cycling on hired bikes and we have all had a great time together. Also, see what options there might be at the hotel. I have been the only guy in a swimming pool aerobics class but it was much more fun that just lazing around doing nothing in the sun.
  3. Resist: inclusive holiday with buffet breakfast / lunch / dinner? Oh boy does all that fabulous food look good! Be strong though and try everything in moderation. It’s hard but you do not want to return with a bulging stomach. I used to treat a buffet as a challenge to see how much I can eat but now it’s all about picking out a small selection of the healthy bits and adding a taste of the “nice” bits. You can also try and aim for the local food so when we went to Portugal I stuck to grilled locally sourced fish and it was divine.
  4. Be Realistic:  we went to Wales & Paris and I did not run at all. Did I miss it? Yes. Did it really bother me? No. Losing a week in a training plan is not the end of the world when you balance it against all the time spent with the family.