Earlier this year when I started training for our MAD2Run journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town, the running bug bit me hard (again). I really enjoyed being able to pull on a pair of shoes and set off out the door, something that I had not done since 2013 when I lived in Cape Town. Cycling will always be a passion of mine but running also has a special place in my enjoyment of exercise.

Running is a great form of exercise, stress reliever and social sport.  Ask Carel Nolte about his pre- and post-race beer routines to find out more about the social side. Running is however harder on the joints than cycling and if you don’t manage your training and build up slowly you do run, pun intended, the chance of getting injured. Unfortunately, this is something that I am guilty of. I injured myself earlier this year. Running a 15km race in under an hour feels awesome while you are floating on the road but when you are busy fracturing your heel in the process, this is certainly not ideal. The end goal should be the bigger picture and not just the race. Without going into the details it’s the second time that something like this has happened so once this injury healed, I made a promise to myself that I would listen more to my body and enjoy just being able to run rather than always race… maybe a valuable lesson here for life as well.

Running Club. Med Bintan

A slightly blurry action picture from one of my morning runs last week.

My running shoes were one of the first things that I packed for a recent trip to Club Med Bintan Island in Indonesia. Not an obvious choice when packing for an island holiday, which primarily involves the sea, sun and the beach. All Club Med resorts have a wide range of activities to keep you active during your stay and you can do something different each day, from archery to Pilates. My enjoyment of exercise means that I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to explore a new area by foot. It offers a different perspective to driving round an island on a scooter or in a car. It also gave me an excuse for some time to have by myself.

Setting off on my first morning run the day after we arrived at the Club Med Bintan Island Resort, I decided to explore and had no real route in mind other than a plan to try and watch the sunrise. I possibly should have looked at a map the evening before. Setting out from the resort, I retraced the road which we had travelled on the bus from the ferry the previous day. The humidity hit me straight in the face, within a couple of minutes I had built up a good sweat. Running in new areas you have to be open to the fact that you may get to a dead end in the road and need to turn around or take a turn which adds a couple of extra kilometres to your run. Bearing this in mind, a good tip for running in new places is to start your runs slower so that you have some energy to get home if you do end up taking a wrong turn.

Running on Bintan Island was phenomenal. Very close to everything that runners need and want, good road conditions and surprisingly undulating or rolling terrain despite being at the coast. The roads were quiet, the paths through the rain forest gave you a sense of being all alone with just nature around you and the paths around the Ria Bintan Golf Course were the icing on the cake. This spot comes close to a runner’s paradise. Running around the path on the edge of the Golf Course was my personal highlight of the running that I did on the island. I was spoilt for choice once I had done a bit of exploring  on the first day and found the main paths, by the way I am sure there are more paths and on my next visit, yes I am already planning it, we will have to do further exploring in order to make updates to running Bintan Island.

I don’t run with a sports watch as I prefer to run on feel rather than on the numbers. It allows me to take in more of the surrounding scenery and on Bintan Island I was happy to not be ‘clock watching’. Rather breathing deeply and just enjoying running outdoors.

Starting the day with exercise even if it is just 30 minutes puts me in a far better mood for the rest of the day. Being able to get this block of exercise in each day during our week at Club Med Bintan Island, was awesome. If you are a keen runner, give me a shout and we can chat or alternatively you can head over to the Club Med website and explore the various options that are available for your next trip. Plan, book and get going… oh and remember to take your running shoes!