Usually I’m really excited about going on holiday but this Summer with lots of big races lined up I was seriously worried about losing fitness whilst I was away. I guess this is problem only obsessive runners have! I was also worried about leaving Strava for a week- how would I cope given I spend most evening’s glued to my laptop analysing training and stats. So with this in mind the first thing to go in the suitcase was plenty of running kit and a promise to myself to try and commit to doing at least some running most days. At least I was helped by the fact that my wife Jodie was keen to do the same (although not usually!) as she is in training for the Robin Hood 1/2 marathon in late September.
Our holiday to Italy this year was set to be a busy one, staying in no less than 4 different hotels and travelling from Venice to Sirmione (Lake Garda), then on to Verona before ending our journey in Venice Lido. I needed a serious plan for where to run, especially in Venice as it’s hardly a fell runner’s paradise! However with some internet research and reading the blogs of other runners I’d found a few potential routes and was happy that I could at least do something to keep me fit and active for the next 7 days. I knew I’d also have to go easy on the ice cream, the beer, the vino and the fantastic italian food…a bigger task than the training!
I always maintain that the best way to see a city is to run the city. You just get to see so much more of the place you’re visiting and it gives you a real feel for where you’re staying. Venice is no exception, a remarkable city with something new and impressive to see at every turn. The plan was to run to the famous San Marco square, which was only a 10 minute trot from our hotel, before heading across to San Elena to complete a loop around what appeared to be the best place to run on the map. We woke up early and I was surprised by actually how many tourists were out and about at 6:30am! Although the streets were busy it’s still the best time to take any photos as after 8:30am Venice is swarming with sightseers and it’s difficult to have any view to yourself without a tourist in the way. Running early also means it’s less hot and the centre of Venice feels like you’re stuck in an oven on most days!
I was also surprised how different and quiet San Elena was from the hustle and bustle of San Marco square. It’s clearly the ‘Central Park’ of Venice and where I expect most Venetians retire to so they can escape the madness of tourism in the heart of the city. Our pace was slow but it’s difficult to run at pace in the heat and also when you want some great shots of where you’re running for Strava and Instagram.
So a single loop of San Elena, past the tired looking football stadium and then back to the hotel for breakfast before a busy day of sightseeing. Jodie managed to upload her run (her Garmin has wireless connectivity, much to my envy) and unbelievably one of the segments around San Elena is taken by no other than my friend Matt Wilson of Ambleside! Small world eh! (https://www.strava.com/segments/4085249?filter=overall)
So if anyone is visiting Venice sometime soon and fancies a run then I’d recommend this route. I don’t think you’ll find a better 5 miler anywhere else in the city, it’s certainly not the easiest place to run!