In a strange land: Running on vacation


“I can’t think of anything that excites a great sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
-Bill Bryson

There are few things better than a long vacation. Especially when you haven’t taken one in a few years. My significant other & I had been planning on taking a semi-extended international vacation for a while and now it was finally time – 5 days in England and 6 days in Iceland. As I planned out what sights I wanted to see, what clothes to bring…the question came up – am I going to be running while I am there?

Since I technically already had a “vacation” from running when I had my inflammation injury and I knew I needed to start marathon training when I got back, I made the decision to take my running sneakers. My goal was to do at least one run in each country. This would hopefully help combat some of the vacation calories I was bound to encounter as well as keep me in decent shape for the 10-miler happening 4 days after I get back. My travel schedule was pretty tight, so I knew it would be a challenge to add one more thing to the agenda. I was determined to try.

There was a nice running & bike path along the beach. It was best to go early, around 6 AM, before the crowds made it difficult.

The first chance I was able to get a morning run in was about 4 days in, at Brighton beach on the south shore of England. As much as I wanted to sleep in that morning, I decided instead to tie up my running shoes and take an early morning run by the Brighton Pier. I was able to get in about 3 miles, just as the sun was starting to warm up the day. The weather ended up being really nice and almost summer-like while we were there.

Brighton Pier, as seen on my way back.

My SO joined me on the run, which was nice. I was glad we went out early enough to enjoy the view of the pier before the crowds settled in.

The roadkill looks a lot different when you are by the beach.

The path was pretty flat as you can imagine, but with some of the construction, I went back and forth between running on the path by the beach and the sidewalk. This gave me a chance to sprint up some very short hills, which felt pretty good.

pier run
Managed to get some hill work in as well!

As for running in Iceland, it didn’t end up happening. The roads seemed a bit dangerous for running, since there were no sidewalks and not much shoulder on the side to run. This was a disappointment since the scenery was so amazing, it would have made such a great backdrop. I also had some difficulties when I fell off a horse while the saddle was being adjusted and landed right on my hip. This caused some pain and stiffness, and when you factor in two straight days of rain, it just wasn’t meant to be. However we did have one very active day which started with an 8 km hike to some airplane wreckage.

The long windy trek to the airplane wreckage. It was like a death march through the desert, but gave us some much needed exercise.
Air plane wreckage
And here is the airplane (with me inside)…so glad when we finally found it.

Later the same day we did an even more difficult 6 km hike with steep hills and amazing views, ending at a natural hot spring.

Hiking to a natural hot spring. The trail was actually very scenic.
Just soaking it all in…while actually soaking. I can’t believe how much it rained!

We were incredibly tired from the first hike, nonstop sight-seeing and just the general dreariness of the weather. But I forced myself and my SO to push on, as I really wanted to see this natural hot spring. I have to say despite being cold and wet on both journeys, it was definitely worth the trek. This was something I had never experienced before and not something you find too often.

Hot Spring
The natural hot spring that we were trekking to. Felt nice to take a dip in warm water after all the rain and wind we encountered.

After a hot soak in the river, we were both satisfied and loving life. The only thing missing was a few post hike beers. Maybe next time.

soaking in the hot river

Soaking in the river also loosened up my hip a bit, which made the hike back a little easier on my body and also helped prepare me for my post-vacation run schedule. Now that I’m back, it’s back to the grind. Back to a real running schedule. I’m so grateful to have been able to take this vacation and have these amazing experiences. Now I feel I have the energy to face my marathon training refreshed and ready to work.


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