Mile Markers: Holiday Essential

I wanted to highlight yet another very important reason to be a runner: holiday sanity.

Whether you’re traveling with kids, extended family, in-laws, or even friends, be sure to pack your running shoes. This advice grows in importance during these months when people are planning and preparing for summer travel. I realise that if you’re like me you can vacillate on whether or not to sacrifice the suitcase space. If you didn’t pack them, you could fit another outfit, another pair of cute wedge sandals, extra sunscreen, a beach novel, even your hair dryer.

Pack your running shoes instead. Trust me.

I just got back from a road trip to a beach with my kids and some dear friends. We had a fabulous time. After twelve hours in the car and a house full of at least eight teenagers, I was so damn happy to be able to run, I cannot tell you. The kids stayed up until the wee hours (I jammed industrial-strength earplugs into my brain) and they slept half the day—but the early morning was all mine.

No matter how late they stayed up, or how tired I was each morning, I pried myself out of bed when the first rays of sunshine crept through the slats in my bedroom shutters. I yawned, pulled on clothes, and hunted through the semi-darkness for a rubber band for my ponytail. I slathered myself in sunscreen and quietly let myself out the back door. I sat on the back steps and laced up my shoes.

I would walk to the start of the bike path, giving my body and my brain a few extra minutes to awaken and adjust to the weight of the humid air. I would set my watch and slowly lumber along, my walk turning into a jog, and my jog eventually turning into a mellow run. People passed by on bikes and offered a “mornin’” with a smile and a wave. Runners nodded, mouthing a familial “hey” from their earphoned bubbles. I ran over an odd mix of terrain: bike path, sand and gravel. As the bright sun rose higher, I sought out shady side streets where locals lived.

I found a coffee shop mid-route, and made friends with the tattooed and pierced lady who had a wry sense of humour and made a mean double espresso. I would hand her a sweaty, wadded-up note from my zippered shorts pocket, and she wouldn’t even flinch (much). I would throw back my coffee like a tequila shot, wipe my face with some paper napkins, say goodbye to my barista, and keep running. As the caffeine hit my veins, I would pick up my pace and head home.

Back at our beach, I’d stop and reserve our beach chairs. Then I would kick off my running shoes and walk along the shore, letting the cool waves crash over my calves and the ocean breeze dry the sweat on my body. Whenever I was ready, I would find my shoes, go up the steps, and walk home barefoot. I’d quietly re-enter the house, sensing my sleeping friends and family, grateful for my stolen time.

The way a runner greets the day is very special. We take our personal time, refill our soul, find our centre, create our zen. Because of this, we can happily engage with the world for the rest of the day. I could mediate sibling squabbling, respond to endless requests, make sandwiches, slather sunscreen, police the porch parties, enjoy my friends, and keep my cool and my sense of humor all day long. Holiday running is just as important (maybe more so) as the running we do the rest of the year. It helps us be the kind of person that people actually want to be with on vacation. We can’t be everything and everyone to everyone else if we aren’t first someone to ourselves. So we run.

Whether you need to shake off your airplane fog, or loosen up your road trip legs, or take a restorative break from family and friends, please remember this: when you are trying to pack it all in, remember to pack your shoes.

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