Bibi recently wrote a great guest post for the Canadian blog Pathways to Life, called ‘Running, Away from Home’ (see what she did there?) The post was full of her top tips for getting in good runs while you’re travelling so I had a quick read before I went to do some warm weather training like the elite athlete that I am. Just kidding. I did do warm weather training but only by default because I happened to be on holiday in Fuerteventura. Anyway, I read the post to ensure that I put my best trainer-shod foot forward in Las Islas Canarias.
First thing I noticed, of course, was that it was hot. Too damned hot (she says wafting a fan in the manner of a Mississipi matriarch). I’m not good in the heat. I can’t sunbathe; it makes me nauseous and I get twitchy and irritable. And, oh my word, the sun was bright! My baby blue eyes could hardly bear it (she says like a petulant vampire).
As I was getting towards the end of training for the Amsterdam marathon, I had to run – no ifs, buts or procrastinations. But because I couldn’t bear to go out in the midday sun (it was about 28C most days), I had to run early or late. If you want to run in daylight (which, given the terrain, I did), daylight that close to the equator starts around 8am and ends about 6pm, which meant that my schedule was more or less pre-determined for me.
You might think from the photos that the terrain looks rather inhospitable. That’s what I thought too, gloomily trawling Google Earth beforehand and seeing nothing but black rocks and sand dunes (there’s black sand too but it’s mostly covered with white sand that blows in from the Sahara).
I made sure, of course, to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I’m obsessed with hydration in rainy England, but in that heat, that goddamned heat, I definitely wasn’t taking any chances. Taking Bibi’s tips on board, I found a body of water to run by, which wasn’t too difficult as a) it’s an island and b) there are no rivers (really, not a single one!) So, coastal paths it was, then. This was a blessing, as the jagged rocks formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago create a landscape that could be grim if it weren’t for the pounding Atlantic waves on the beaches. I quickly grew to love what at first glance seemed like pure desolation; I’d never ran anywhere so stark and strange before.
I also had my snacks with me, as recommended by Bibi. Trusty High5 gels and carbohydrate drinks, on this trip courtesy of Sports Pursuit, have never let me down yet. Plus buying dried fruit and nuts from the supermarket gave me an excellent opportunity to practice my Spanglish (to my dismay, I’ve been learning Spanish for years and still speak it a not-all-that-bright toddler).
For cross-training I went to surf school for the day. I was rubbish, of course, but it was emphatically a v excellent workout, not least because the waves were WILD. I’d spend ages battling my way through them only to get upended the second I tried to ride one (I use that term very loosely). It was great fun though and I DID STAND UP!! That said, I wriggled into my wetsuit thinking I’d be all California Girls and ended the day looking like Ceto (who, in case you were wondering, is not a rapper but a hideous sea monster in Greek mythology).
I was sort of reluctant to post the final image. Let’s just say I don’t look at my very best. Who cares, though? I felt absolutely fantastic. Definitely one to send to Spikes and Heels for her #OperationHideous gallery, in which she posts images of women who have loved their workout and don’t give a monkeys what they look like. Because they shouldn’t have to, obvs.
On this run, even fairly early on a morning – I set off about 8.30 – it was hot and muggy. I ran for about an hour along the rough trail of volcanic rubble. I was completely alone, except for the occasional surfers’ Jeeps that rattled by, seeking out the beaches with the best waves. I should have flagged them down and told them not to go to the one I’d been to the previous day.
The waves crashed on the shore and the weird black gravel crunched underfoot but the sound of both was distorted by, erm, the sweat dripping in my ears. Just the way I like it… 😉
I’d thoroughly recommend Fuerteventura for running, as long as you take a bit of Boff Whalley’s advice – Run Wild everywhere but especially on holiday.