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If you’re concerned about how to stay fit and healthy while you’re on holiday – you’re not on your own. While a lot of people use a holiday as an excuse to eat and drink too much, I’m not one of them. Just because I want to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, it doesn’t mean I have the desire to take a break from my healthy, active lifestyle. Because it’s exactly that. A lifestyle. And it’s one that I enjoy. Eating an unhealthy diet that leaves me feeling sluggish, bloated, irritable and 10lbs overweight isn’t something I have an interest in. I don’t deny myself anything, but I don’t believe in dieting either. When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer of everything in moderation.
Even if you enjoy working out, unless you’re going to somewhere like Club La Santa, you probably won’t be exercising on a daily basis. But with some careful planning, you can still manage to stay fit and healthy while you’re taking time out. Just remember, it’s not all about how active you are, what you eat is also a factor.
Here are 8 ideas for keeping your mind and body in shape while you’re on holiday.
Whether it’s walking along a beautiful coastline or exploring thick green woodland – get outside and explore. Do a bit of research before you go and figure out some hiking routes. You’ll get to stay active and discover some places of beauty too. This is my favourite thing to do when we’re on holiday. When we visited Italy, my favourite part of the trip was hiking Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods).
Find a gym / do a class / go swimming
If you’re more of a gym bunny rather than a hiker, find a local gym instead. Depending on your accommodation, you may even find access to a nearby health club is included in the price. If you’re staying in a hotel find one that has a pool and an onsite gym – some might offer classes too. If you’re really lucky, you might even be staying in a villa with its own pool. When we visited Sydney, we stayed at an Ibis hotel which included a gym pass to the local Fitness First. It was ideal for us to do a weights session early in the morning before getting on with our day.
Trail running, hitting the streets or finding a local park. If you like running outdoors, head outside instead of using a gym. This is probably one of the best ways of staying active while on holiday. Depending on where you go, if you get up early you might be lucky enough to find some solitude – or just a few other fitness enthusiasts. When we did a stopover in Death Valley we headed out for a run at 6 am before it got too hot. It also set us up for the 7-hour drive that we had ahead of us.
I’ve done a bodyweight workout on more than one occasion when we’ve been on holiday, and you can do it without leaving your hotel room or apartment. Squats, lunges, press-ups, tricep dips, sit-ups – you can easily put a circuit together to give you a full-body workout. If you’re not confident about putting your own routines together, you’ll easily find something on Google or Pinterest. Kayla Itsines is the queen of circuits: her workouts are challenging and adaptable.
Try something new
Why not try a new activity? Rock climbing, snorkelling, beach volleyball, cycling. You could go on a bike tour of a city, or walk everywhere instead of grabbing a bus. Some cities even offer running tours. This is something I’ve been considering for the next time we go away.
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you should binge. Staying fit and healthy isn’t just about keeping active – your food plays a big part too. When we’re resting, or doing lower intensity exercise, the main source of energy that our bodies use is fat. So, if you’re not hammering the gym or going for a run, don’t be afraid to cut back on the carbs and increase your intake of some good fats. Snack on nuts and seeds throughout the day to keep your energy levels up or add them to your breakfast in a morning. The protein in them will also help you to feel fuller for longer. If that doesn’t sound appealing, try carrying some of these super seed 9Nine bars with you instead. Choose self-catering over a hotel where possible too. No-one’s expecting you to stay in and cook every night, but you have better control over what you eat if you can go shopping and prepare your own meals. If you’re eating out, don’t go crazy – no matter how tempting the food looks!
Watch your alcohol intake
I’m not a big drinker. I probably have a beer once every 3 or 4 months – sometimes longer – so it’s not an issue for me. But I know a lot of people like to drink when they go on holiday. Did you know that 1g of alcohol contains 7 calories? That’s only 2 less than what 1g of fat contains. And not only does it increase your appetite which can lead to binge eating, it also decreases your metabolism and energy levels. So, if you want to watch your waistline while you’re on holiday, keep the alcohol to a minimum.
Fluid intake is important – even more so if you’re active – and water counts for 45-70% of our total body mass. If you’re thirsty, then you’re on your way to being dehydrated and dehydration can cause havoc with our bodies. It’s your body’s way of telling you to drink some fluid but is sometimes confused with feeling hungry. Symptoms of dehydration can include a dry mouth, feeling lethargic or lightheaded, a headache and dark coloured and strong-smelling urine. Always carry a bottle of water with you to help keep you hydrated during the day.
If you lead an active and healthy lifestyle, then continuing that on holiday shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re already concerned about how you’ll stay in shape while you’re away, then you’re probably already planning how you can remain active. And if you’re going away with a partner or a friend who likes to keep fit and healthy too, it’ll be easier to find the motivation to stay on track.
What’s your favourite way of staying active on holiday?
My fitness journey started roughly 24 years ago when I was about 15 years old. As I write these words I find it difficult to believe I’ve been exercising and keeping myself fit for over half my life. I always thought I wasn’t particularly body conscious in my teens, but looking back I can see I was. Although I was a couple of dress sizes bigger than I am now, I couldn’t tell you how much I weighed. I wasn’t particularly big, and being tall helped me to look slimmer than I was. I just wish I’d have realised it back then. But if I had, then I might not be where I am today.
The event that first made me feel self-conscious about my body was a school trip to The Sandcastle in Blackpool. And although I wasn’t the biggest in my class, or even within my group of friends, the idea of wearing a swimsuit in front of my class mates was something I wasn’t prepared to do. So, I didn’t go. But the event that led me to really freaking out about my body, was being invited to go on holiday with one of my friends and her parents.
In my teens, I was a bit of a tomboy: I played football, wore football shirts, lived in jeans and didn’t wear anything that drew attention to my body shape. The bigger and baggier my clothes were, the better – and I was okayish with my weight. But once I’d accepted the holiday invitation, I couldn’t get the thought of wearing a swimsuit out of my head. As the holiday drew closer so did my panic. In an evening, I would lock myself in my room and behind the privacy of the bedroom door, I would do a range of exercises, including lying leg raises and glute squeezes, before finishing off with some squats. I didn’t particularly know what I was doing – I just knew I had to do something to try and tone up my saddlebags.
I survived the holiday by wearing a t-shirt over my swimsuit, but shortly after I returned I made the decision I wanted to exercise properly. I wanted to feel good about myself – and my body. I became increasingly conscious that my friends were wearing skirts, shorts and tight-fitting bodysuits, while I was sweltering on hot summer’s day in my jeans or oversized knee length dungaree shorts. One day when I was at the local library I stumbled upon the video section, and there upon one of the shelves was Kathy Smith’s Fat Burning Workout. I didn’t hesitate. I booked it out straight away and did so repeatedly for the next couple of months. At first, I struggled to get through the whole workout. But every day after school, I would take over the living room and exercise until I was dripping with sweat, barely being able to breathe. After a couple of weeks, I started to notice a difference. I could complete the whole workout – not with ease – but I could do it. And after another couple of weeks, people started commenting, asking if I’d lost weight. I was ecstatic.
My first workout video (that’s right – video!)
Seeing how frequently I was doing the Kathy Smith video and also how much I enjoyed working out, when I passed my GCSEs my parents bought me The Y-Plan Fat Breaker as a well-done present. It was my very own exercise video and I was made up. It consisted of 3 routines: 11 minutes, 17 minutes and 35 minutes. I started off doing the 17-minute routine twice through before moving onto the 35-minute workout. Sometimes, I would do that one twice through as well. I found myself looking in shops like HMV, Woolworths and WH Smith, scouring the video section for the latest workout videos and before I knew it, I had my own little library.
Discovering the gym & Thai-boxing
When I started college, I discovered I could get a free gym pass for the local leisure centres and that’s where my fitness journey really started. I would cycle the 20 minutes to reach my nearest leisure centre, do my workout and then cycle home. Even though I started lifting weights, I didn’t particularly know what I was doing. I would watch other people on the machines and then adjust the weight accordingly. I’d lost a full-dress size and there was a significant difference in my body shape too, so I figured I must have been doing something right. But now, it wasn’t just about how I looked, it was more than that. I also noticed how I was feeling inside: I felt stronger and better within myself, which was something I wasn’t expecting. About this time, I started Thai-boxing lessons and I soon found myself training up to 5 nights a week, taking gradings and preparing myself for an intercamp fight. I didn’t think I was ready, but my instructor was confident I could do it – and I did. The fight was hard – mentally and physically – but I gave it everything I had, and afterwards, I felt great.
I stopped Thai-boxing when I went off to University in Hull. I looked at other clubs, but they didn’t hold any appeal. So, I joined a dirty back street gym just off the red-light district and to this day, it’s still one of the best gyms I’ve ever been a member of. The classes were amazing and always full, regardless of the time of day and when things started to go wrong, I found myself spending more and more time there. I soon realised that University wasn’t what I expected and there were many things making me unhappy. I began visiting friends from back home more frequently, at whichever city they were studying in, or returning home to stay with my parents. I wanted to be anywhere except Hull.
But regardless of where I was, my exercise routine was the one thing that stayed consistent. It was my coping mechanism. It was the only thing keeping me sane. I’d either find a gym, attend a class, or take an exercise video with me and do that. One night, my friend and I went out on a massive bender and didn’t return to her house in Sheffield until stupid o’ clock in the morning, but I still started off the next day by exercising. She lifted her head from underneath the covers to find me doing a Cher fitness video in her bedroom, mumbled something about me being fucking insane and then promptly went back to sleep. Extreme? Looking back, perhaps a little, but it was the one thing that cleared my head and helped prepare me for my day.
Even though I was exercising daily, I found myself putting on weight and I didn’t make the link at the time that my diet was affecting how I looked. I just figured that if I was exercising every day, I should be losing weight. Unfortunately, the student lifestyle of staying up late, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and living on a diet of bacon sandwiches, bread and Warburtons tea cakes was hindering my workouts – I just didn’t realise it. And it was only when I returned home for the Summer that I somehow managed to change my eating habits. I didn’t know what I was doing – I wasn’t a nutritionist – but I started looking more carefully at what I was eating. I’d also cut down on my drinking and started hammering the gym again. I still didn’t know what I was doing at the gym either and I found myself doing full body workouts nearly every day – but the weight was dropping off me and everyone was commenting how good I looked, so I kept at it. About this time I also started running, and most days I would slog it out on a treadmill for nearly an hour before doing a full-body workout with weights. I was putting my body under an obscene amount of stress, but I was feeling strong and healthy, so I didn’t see it as an issue.
Training to become an aerobics instructor
Once things really went belly up and I’d made the decision to leave Uni, I had to decide what to do next. Luckily, it was a no-brainer. I was going to the gym every day either to do a workout or attend a class, and I was getting to know all the instructors too. So, it made sense that I should follow my passion for fitness and train to become an aerobics instructor. I found a two-week intensive course in Manchester, signed up, and headed back home to stay with my parents for a while. My boyfriend at the time wasn’t very supportive and told me I wouldn’t be able to stand up in front of a group of people and teach – which only made me want to do it more. For two weeks, I felt like I finally belonged somewhere – I loved it. And although everyone on the course had a different reason for being there, they all had one thing in common – a love of fitness.
After qualifying as an aerobics instructor, I found myself returning to Hull. Along with working in a nightclub, and the various day jobs I managed to pick up, I also started teaching at a health club. It was nerve wracking and exhilarating at the same time. I loved spending time putting routines together, and I was receiving good feedback from the participants too.
My teaching career
Eventually, I became so unhappy I decided to return home. I packed my things up one day, and my parents came to collect me the next. By this time, I knew many of the instructors around the Warrington area from attending their classes and chatting with them afterwards. My name was put forward to teach for the council, and shortly after moving home I had my own classes in several leisure centres. I also found myself covering classes on a regular basis throughout the North West, both for the council and for private health clubs. A couple of the instructors took me under their wing and trained me up to teach spinning, so before long I had my own spinning classes and plenty of cover work too. By now, I was also a qualified step instructor and I’d managed to bag myself two more classes at a brand-new health club that was opening. I’d started working as a fitness instructor in a local gym, and I was also teaching 8 classes a week at a women’s only health club in Manchester. Things were going well. Unfortunately, my boss at the gym wasn’t very supportive, and although I knew my way around the equipment, I wasn’t a qualified fitness instructor. But this didn’t bother her. When I requested two weeks off for a training course so I could become a certified instructor, she told me I could have the time off but not to expect to get paid! Again, I found myself heading off to Manchester. I spent 2 weeks training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer, scoring 98% in my exams – the highest in the class – and I returned to the gym fully qualified.
Weight gain – again!
Teaching was going well. I had regular classes and plenty of cover work too, but the one thing I couldn’t get on top of was my weight. Considering how active I was, I was still struggling to see that my diet was hindering all the good work I was putting in. At a weekend, Ian and I thought nothing of buying a couple of bags of cookies and doughnuts – the packs that contained 5 – and demolishing them in one night. I was supposed to be teaching people how to stay fit and healthy, and I felt anything but. Standing up in front of a class was starting to make me feel self-conscious about my weight, and when I hit 10st 10lb – the heaviest I’ve ever been – I went into meltdown. I scoured my local book shop for healthy eating books and found Rosemary Conley’s New Body Plan. I didn’t follow any of the exercises, but we started making the recipes and watching what we were eating. I dropped 10lb quickly and continued to eat sensibly while slowly watching another half stone fall off. I was back on track.
Giving up teaching
In 2004, 6 years after I first started teaching, I decided to hang up my teaching shoes. By this time, I’d gradually decreased my classes, given up my job at the gym and found myself teaching just two classes at a weekend and covering classes in an evening. Much as I loved it, I was beginning to find it taking a toll on my body. My joints were becoming painful, it was interfering with my own training and I found myself having more and more time off work from the day job I’d taken on, as the endometriosis I was suffering with gradually became worse.
It’s been 13 years since I gave up teaching, and even though I’m self-employed and love my job, I’ve never felt that level of job satisfaction since. 8 years ago, I tried going back to personal training – but it wasn’t the same. It didn’t give me the same buzz that teaching aerobics did and I don’t think anything ever will. When you’ve given something up that you loved with all your heart and soul, it’s difficult to find a suitable replacement.
It took me years to take part in an exercise class after leaving teaching. I went spinning, and it was one of the most emotional things I’ve ever put myself through. 20 minutes in, out of nowhere, I could feel the tears building up and it took every ounce of energy to hold them back. When I got to the car, I let them out and cried like there was no tomorrow. It was totally unexpected – I had no idea it would make me feel that way!
Where I am now
Although I don’t teach anymore, my love of training is still strong and I workout 6 days a week. Whether it’s at home, in the gym, or going for a run, my love of feeling fit and healthy is something that’s stayed with me. There are some days where I don’t feel like working out, but I push myself to do it. Because once I get started, I always enjoy it. And thanks to lots of reading and education, the introduction of My Fitness Pal and Fitbit, I understand what my body needs in order to fuel it correctly. I also follow a vegan diet, and you can read about my journey to veganism here.
Although I enjoy my workouts and love going hiking whenever possible, I don’t take part in as many outdoor activities as I’d like to. I ran the Chester half-marathon in 2016, and taking part in other running events is something I’d like to get more involved with. I used to be an avid indoor climber too, which is something I hope to get back to soon. And earlier in the year, I qualified as a sports and exercise nutritionist, although I haven’t decided in which direction I’m going with it yet. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to seeing where the next step in my fitness journey takes me.
Everyone has a story behind their fitness journey, what’s yours?
I’m a little bit behind with some of my posts at the moment. Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a goldfish which means I get easily distracted by shiny objects. Luckily, I have Lightroom to jog my memory about the places I’ve visited!
It was a cold January morning. There was frost on the ground and a winter nip in the air. As I sat in the car carefully wrapping myself up in multiple layers, I silently hoped I’d brought enough with me to keep warm. The heater was on full blast, and I found myself looking out of the window, happily watching other people go about their business. Some were walking their dogs, others were admiring the plants, and some were sat outside the café enjoying a hot drink, while their four-legged friends lay patiently at their feet.
I opened the door and stepped out of the car into the cold winter air. I pulled my hat down over my ears and breathed out, watching my breath hang in front of me. I pulled my mittens on, readjusted my bag, and decided I was ready to explore.
The venue was Sizergh Castle, and the event was my best friend’s birthday. Although it wasn’t our original destination, it provided us with a good backup plan when we discovered Levens Hall hadn’t opened its doors for the year yet. In our usual style, we’d taken to the road without checking out the details of our intended destination – so part way up the M6 we had to make a detour. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time we’ve done something like this, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
A medieval house set in spectacular landscaped grounds, Sizergh Castle is over 700 years old and is still lived in by the Strickland family. With water gardens, herbaceous borders, an orchard and the National Trust’s largest limestone rock garden – there’s plenty to explore. And with prices available to visit either the house, the garden or the whole property, there’s something to keep everyone happy. Hoping to spend a few hours there we’d planned to pay for the whole shebang, but we soon discovered the house was shut, and our money was to stay in our pockets.
Everywhere was frozen; the white frost clung to the foliage for dear life, and the sun was hiding behind the trees, leaving most of the stump garden in shade. Occasionally, it would twinkle between the leaves reminding us of its presence, treating us to a magnificent display of sun flare like a giant glitter ball in the sky.
As we meandered around, I found myself lost amongst a sea of plants, spoilt for choice of what to photograph next. There were small ferns, luscious and green, with water droplets glistening on the leaves where the ice had melted away. Next to them were green and brown ferns still dressed for winter, covered in bright white frost. We watched the gardeners as they worked hard under the cold January sun, preparing the soil and planting new life, and we commented how colourful everything would look when it finally came into bloom.
Walking slowly along the pathway we found ourselves heading towards the greenhouses, and through the windows, I could see a vast array of plants. There were tiny seedlings waiting to be put into the ground and boxes of potatoes piled on top of one another. It was becoming abundantly clear how much work it took to prepare Sizergh for the busier months when the gardens would be filled with visitors.
We eventually found ourselves overlooking the limestone rock garden, the National Trust’s largest in any of its properties. The sun still hadn’t made its way over, so it was cold and grey with the heavy frost leaving the trees looking spindly and bedraggled. But as we started to explore, the sun slowly began to rise, casting a hazy golden light onto the trees, highlighting their twisted winter branches that hadn’t even thought about starting to bloom yet.
Wandering around the frozen gardens my hands were becoming painful from the cold, so we made our way towards the sunlight and in the general direction of the lake. Apart from the occasional ripple here and there the water was still, and we found ourselves staring into it playing a guessing game of what could be moving just below the surface. We watched the sunlight glisten on the water and spent some time talking, laughing and generally catching up on life. When we couldn’t ignore our rumbling bellies anymore, we decided it was time to head back to the car and fill ourselves up on jamwiches and salted caramel nibbles.
Fat and happy from our bread feast and warm and toasty from the heater, we once again left the warmth of the car to explore the rest of the gardens. With not everything being open there wasn’t too much left to discover. But we took a route off the beaten track and found ourselves walking through woodland and alongside another lake. The ground was still frozen, and with every footstep, it crunched beneath our feet. Taking another detour, we followed a narrow track that was overgrown with tall bushes along one side and soon stumbled upon a gate leading to a field. We watched hikers and dog walkers crisscross along the grass, and we squinted against the bright winter sun before retracing our steps alongside the lake and heading back to the car.
It’s not the first time we’ve misread something or turned up to somewhere that’s closed, and we frequently end up in random situations where our favourite catchphrase comes courtesy of Joey from Friends: ‘so, I’m in my map….’. And although it may not have been our intended day out, as always, it turned out well in the end.
For opening times and prices, I suggest heading over to the Sizergh Castle page on the National Trust Website.
The Warm Up
As I start to warm up I begin to work through my checklist. Pain in left knee? Check. Pain in left hip flexor? Check. Sciatic twinges in my right side? Check. Numbness in right big toe? Oh. This one doesn’t always show up, yet today it’s decided to make an appearance. Check. Discomfort in arms and hands? Check and check. Each run begins with the same routine, a mental checklist of all the niggles throughout my body. The pain in my left knee because it’s been dislocated twice, caused by lax ligaments. The pain in my left hip flexor due to the labral tear that’s been there for over a decade. The numbness in my big toe caused by a cyst behind my right knee that can’t be removed. The sciatica, which first flared up as a pinched nerve and bulging disc after overdoing it in the garden a few years ago. The discomfort in my arms and hands caused by tendonitis in my elbows and the nerves in my neck and shoulders. Once I’m happy that everything is present and correct, I try to forget my injuries and pick up the pace into a jog.
The First 10 Minutes
The next ten minutes are hell. This is the part of the run I dread…oh wait…I dread the last ten minutes too. It’s at this point where my muscles are burning from lactic acid that I could easily stop, giving up before I’ve really started. But I continue. Because once I’ve broken through the pain barrier I know there’s a sweet spot waiting for me. There’s a gentle rhythm where one foot effortlessly lands in front of the other, my breathing settles and I forget about my injuries. I search for them but they’re not there. I become lost in my music, in the zone, and my mind starts to wander. This is where my nuggets of inspiration appear and I make a mental note of everything that flows, telling myself I’ll remember them later. I’m 20 minutes in and I increase the speed. A minute later I get a twinge in my back, a gentle reminder that I need to take it easy. I let my body adapt to the speed, vowing not to increase it again just yet. But I will. I always do.
When I hit 35 minutes the pain begins. My chest becomes tight, my energy stores are starting to deplete and it suddenly dawns on me I had pancakes for tea the night before. Even though they were nice at the time, they’ve done nothing to help fuel this morning’s run. #epicfail. I keep going. Only now I can’t take my eyes off the time and I’m watching each second go by. I challenge myself to look out of the window for a full minute, but when I glance back at the clock I realise it’s only been 30 seconds. Damn. It’s at this point I have to start working in 5-minute increments to keep myself going. Just five more minutes and you can stop if you want to. It’s okay – you’ve done really well. The dialogue runs through my head on a loop. Just four more minutes and you can stop if you want to. It’s okay – you’ve done really well. When I hit 40 minutes the countdown starts again. Just five more minutes and you can stop if you want to. It’s okay…..
I always use a treadmill in front of the window. The one that’s furthest away from everything else, in the corner of the gym near the spinning bikes. It means I don’t have to acknowledge anyone if I vaguely recognise them and I can make as many running noises as I like. I just watch the cars drive past on the road and look at other gym goers as they come and go. I stare at the idiot who parks his car on double yellow lines outside the window, because he’s too arrogant and lazy to use an actual space. Ironic really, considering he’s about to spend the next hour working out.
45 minutes done. 15 minutes to go. Just five more minutes and you can stop if you want to. It’s okay – you’ve done really well. My mind starts to wander and I think about the day ahead. I can’t decide if I should go for a Starbucks. Even though it’s out of my way I still try and justify it. I don’t normally need much persuasion but today I decide against it. Driving ten minutes in the opposite direction for a caramel soya latte seems a bit extreme – I’ll go later in the week instead. By this time, I’ve turned into Monica Geller, because let’s face it, the best kind of competition is with myself. Not only do I want to finish, but I want to finish with style. With speed. With the feeling that my heart could burst out of my chest at any second.
At 50-minutes the dialogue in my head changes. Gone are the gentle, nurturing mantras, instead it turns into my version of tough love: Come on you fucker, you’ve got this – ten minutes and you’re done. Keep going. I increase my speed and I feel my legs working as fast as they can to carry me to the finish line. I keep pushing, my arms pumping faster and my stride getting longer. The last 5-minutes are hell. I can’t take my eyes off the time and I start to question if I could run any faster. My hand is already one step ahead and I find myself pressing the button to increase the speed. Not once, not twice, but four times. Shit me. I wonder if my legs can sustain the pace, but it’s too late, I have to keep going, I’m committed and there’s no going back. Keep going you fucker you’re nearly there. And then I realise. I did a 5-minute walk to warm up, which means my five minutes is actually 10-minutes. Shit. 60 minutes. One hour. That’s what today’s run was. It wasn’t supposed to be about speed, it was about endurance – I just wanted to run for an hour. Just five more minutes and you can stop if you want to. It’s okay – you’ve done really well. The mantra changes back to the original message and I realise that I might just make it. I look down at the display: 60 minutes followed by: Begin Cooldown. And just like that the treadmill starts to slow. Whhaaaaaat???? New gym – new treadmill. One that cuts off at an hour apparently. I debate whether to stop it and restart it to run the last 5 minutes, but realise that I’m done – absolutely spent.
The Cool Down
I’m gasping for air and even though I’m desperately in need of water, I start to weigh up which I need most – oxygen or water? Oxygen wins. As I begin my cool down, I go back to the beginning and start again with my check list, only this time it’s a different story. It’s rare to find any pain at the end of a run, it doesn’t show up until later in the day. Perhaps there’s a niggle here and there, but nothing significant. I finish my cool down and head over to the stretching area. I watch as a woman gets onto a treadmill, she slowly stretches her neck from side to side and gives her shoulders a gentle roll. As I begin to stretch out my hip flexors, I smirk to myself and wonder what her mental checklist looks like.