There is a direct contradiction between being on holiday and exercising, the notion of putting in effort while you are supposed to be enjoying yourself. There are a select group of people who love to exercise, whenever, wherever they are. To them, a holiday merely presents an opportunity to exercise in a nicer setting. I admit, I am not one of these people. To me a holiday is about seeing the sights and exploring the cities. An exercise session in the morning is only going to rob me of energy that could be spent exploring. An exercise session in the afternoon means coming back to your hotel room in time to change, exercise, shower and then head out for dinner, a weak excuse, but it just feels too cramped. So I usually don’t exercise during a holiday.
I’m sure I am not the only one who finds maintaining a fitness level is difficult during travel. Im sure a lot of people struggle just as much as I do. And to be fair, the fitness level itself isn’t or shouldn’t be a problem if I had really focused on my fitness this year. Alas, other priorities took precedence and my 30km running weeks with 4 gym and 2 spin sessions turned into half of that at best, and almost non existent at worst. I had no one else to blame but myself, and I wasn’t going to let the new year new me idea get into my head, I was going to start now!
First, a picture of the situation. There I was on one of the most famous beaches in the world, beer in one hand, packet of chips on the other. Amazing girlfriend, casually and sneakily taking most of the chips (she hadn’t had a big breakfast). Vendors walking around offering everything from sunglasses to empanadas. Rio de Janeiro on New Years day was absolutely amazing! Normally by this point I’d be feeling a mix of guilt and regret. Guilt for the beer I knew I didn’t need, regret for not working harder through the year to shed those extra kilos. It had become an all too common feeling through the last few years. Most of the time, easy to push aside, under the promise of a new day tomorrow or a brand new workout plan. But this time I was in the middle of an amazing holiday, sitting literally at the front of one of the most iconic beaches in the world, with a person so dear to me yet whom I’d spent a grand total of 75 days with over the last year (yes, I counted them). I wasn’t about to spend my last few days in this setting worrying about making some insignificant amount of progress. I was going to enjoy this perfect setting and do so for as long as I wanted to.
This peace of mind however, didn’t come free. I had made a promise to start now, and I had done it. The week before Christmas, I had run my first 24km week of the year, the day after getting to Rio, we had walked close to 20km on our way to “Pão de Açúcar”, one of the famous landmarks in Rio. Day 2, we walked another 20km which included almost a kilometre of going upwards as we made our way to Christ the Redeemer. New Years eve we took easy knowing we had a big night ahead (and we were exhausted), yet we still managed to easily eclipse the 15km mark. Throughout all the eating and relaxing, we had seen literally ALL of Copacabana, most of Ipanema, walked through shady spots or Rio, got lost in the streets with 5% phone battery and no cash (thanks google maps for not sapping ALL of my battery), and through it all it never dropped below 30 degrees and 80% humidity. We hadn’t even crossed into 2017 yet! So yeah, I had a few beers, and pizza, and way too much meat, but not once did I regret it.
Ok that’s a lie, we did have a pizza one night that had about 500g of cream cheese stuffed into its crust (on the medium size no less). That was disgusting. In fact, the whole of Brazil seems to have a very unhealthy love towards cheese, “Pão de Queijo”, little fried cheese bread balls, are advertised everywhere!!
The fun wouldn’t stop at Rio of course, we still had Iguazú to go to. That was a whole lot more hiking under 34 degrees and a sky-high humidity rating. All in all, it was an amazing 8 day adventure, during which we easily walked close to two full marathons. Yes, I still put on weight, I enjoy food too much not to. Yes, my fitness took a hit and my calves were too tight to contemplate a 24km week once I was back, but the damage could have easily been worse, and I could have spent the entire trip feeling guilty about not working harder through the year. Instead, I took control of what I could, changed my perspective and not only limited the impact a holiday had on my fitness, I also ensured that I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Can’t wait for the next one, maybe I’ll run the two marathons then instead!