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  • Writer's picture Irina

The Break


Waiting for a very delayed ferry in the port of Paros. Looking more cheerful than we were.


August 20, 2022

At long last we are on holidays. And when I say holidays, I mean proper holidays. The type where you do nothing. Where the only thing you have to think about is what time you’ll go to the beach and if you fancy an Aperol Spritz now or in half an hour ('now' is usually the answer) and whether you want an afternoon nap or a morning lie in, or both or to read your book. Like I said, proper holidays.


Brits abroad! Can you please hold my cactus?


Nothing like the nonholiday holidays I had last year. Jeez, I am NEVER doing THAT again. What was I thinking? Marathon training peaked during August last year and despite not working and being in Greece it felt absolutely nothing like a holiday. It was all about horribly long runs in blistering heatwaves, dreaded alarms, antisocial waking up times to avoid the heat (as if that was even possible) and even more antisocial going to bed times in order to actually get some sleep, which if you’ve ever been to Greece you’ll know is just impossible, especially in the summer when the evening doesn’t start until gone 10pm.


So much crap to deal with last year. I will never forget the headache of staying hydrated on those runs, so sad now that I look back on it. Stuffing silicone water flasks in my bra? What was that about? How did I ever think that was a good idea?

I can go on and on about the forced breakfasts at 4.30am, the endless laundry, the lonely search for pasta, the alarms, the blisters, the dust, the sweat. Good news it's all in the past. This year I am doing it right and I am taking a break from everything, running included. I repeat. I am on a break.


First break from running since March 2020 and LOVING every minute of it. Maybe a bit too much if I’m honest.


Syros 2022. Priceless moments with timeless friends.


I planned this running break a couple of months ago and had set high expectations on how much it would help me relax, allow me to take stock of my running journey and restart strong and motivated to tackle the marathon training that lies ahead.


Four days in and I already feel like I haven’t run for months. “So this is how the other half lives?” I ask myself. I mean it has only been four days. Four days is nothing, yet it feels so different. I think long and hard as I am sitting in the front porch of the gorgeous house we are staying in on Antiparos island. I think again as I sip on my iced coffee and bite into an ultra crumbly biscuit. I think again as I realise I haven’t worn a watch for days. I think again as my gaze wanders round to the beach, as I hear the sea gently moving mixed with childrens’ voices in the background or the clanking sound of plates, someone is getting ready for dinner, as I look at the bowl of figs our landlady has picked for us this morning, as I lose track of time, as I walk into the blazing sun, drink wine, sleep till late with all the windows wide open and the summer breeze cooling down the sheets, as I doze off on the beach, as I think of things I don’t usually have time to think about, as I find ways to be mindful, as I forget what day it is and as I allow myself to get lost in the magic of summer holidays in Greece.


Beach babes!!


September 3, 2022

Staying true to my love of lists and bullet points, I can’t resist making a list of what felt different during my adventures on this new found land of No Running.


· Time. Not sure if it slows down or there’s just more of it to spend doing something or nothing and not caring either way.

· Head space. Who knew there’s so much free space in my head. Admittedly that can be a curse or a blessing depending on where the mind decides to travel. A chance to take stock of my life and relationships and appreciate that it’s all pretty damn good.

· Suitcase space. Just wow! Without all the shorts, tops, bras, socks, trainers, bags of vitamins, water bottles, watches and chargers I realised I am actually a light packer (audience laughs). We still ended up 5 kilos overweight on the way back… Must have been all the homemade jams, olives (so many olives) and Greek gins!

· Sleeping. Sleeping feels very different without the constant threat of an alarm and the nervous twisting and turning that goes with it. Alarms on holidays should only go off for catching early flights or ferries, not runs. End of.

· Roads are just roads. They are not potential running routes, I repeat they are not potential running routes. It doesn’t matter if there is an incline or sharp downhill. The car can manage it easily just by changing gear. Well, who knew?



Chilled rose wine? Don't mind if I do!


Lists aside, there was a price for this freedom and downtime. There’s always a price, isn’t there? I’d be lost without a price to pay. Can’t handle too good to be true situations.


For starters, there was none of that post run glow, that endorphin party that inevitably follows a run and lifts the spirit, none of that feeling ‘empty’ of toxins and all things bloating, feeling energetic and strong. Seeing other people run and feeling a tiny bit of FOMO mixed in with a bit of relief that it’s someone else huffing and puffing.


There was also the unspoken fear of never starting again. Like a car on low battery that is fine as long as it keeps going. Turn the engine off and all bets are off. A mental minefield and I have taken the easy road enough times to know it can easily happen again. So maybe just a little bit of fear and worry is a good thing. Keeps me on my toes.


And then it was over. The holiday, the not running, the sandy beach, the sea breeze, the icy beer. All of it.


Reality hit hard that Monday, which was not only my first day back to work, it was my first day back to work on a Bank Holiday, which meant Doug and the rest of the country were off, not to mention it was the birthday of my very good friend, Lucy. I also had my first run which kicked off my Marathon training season. Watch this space. Before you know it I’ll be stuffing water bottles down my bra.


Two lefts don't make a right. Can you tell I just got back?


Admittedly it all went better than I thought... Coming home can be just as good as going away. Who doesn’t love sleeping in their own bed and fighting the laundry battle? Beeing back out running in the early hours, when it’s quiet and the world is still asleep, feeling the freshness of the autumn air, felt good. I thought back to where I was a few days ago, both physically and mentally and in that moment I knew that no matter how much I loved the break, I was not looking for a break up.



September 11, 2022

When I finished writing the story above, I gave it to Doug, my editor in chief, for a first screening. He liked it but felt it was unfinished in a way. What’s the point of this post? He said. Why did you write it? he asked.


Mental block…Why did I write it?


Gave it another 2 weeks and I am still not sure. I guess part of the reason is the sheer joy of being on a break and writing about not running for a change, as opposed to the same old, same old running jibber jabber.


Fear is another good reason to share a story. I’ve said before that sharing makes life less scary and more exciting. The fear of not restarting is a real thing and I know a few people who are struggling to re-start so to them I say, fear not. Re-starting is a personal and somewhat lonely business but if it’s any help, it does happen to all of us and it’s alright and you can do this.


Greece is another reason. My country, which I love and miss and which is at its absolute best during the summer. I wanted to show it off a bit and share some images, sounds and scents and capture them for when it’s cold and dark.


Finally, I realise once more that breaks mean nothing without hard work. The soothing warmth of the summer sun, lying on a beach under an umbrella with the sea breeze gently cooling you, salty skin and sandy feet and the distant sounds from a taverna nearby, airy dresses and shorts and sandals and wet hair as you stroll into town for the evening, ice cream and souvlaki and cold beer, and smiley, happy people. All that would be boring without dark mornings, rainy days, runs against strong winds, without tough work days and long weeks that leave you exhausted.


I need it ALL to stay balanced. How about you?


Memories for a lifetime...











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8 Comments


gravesianm
Sep 13, 2022

What an amazing time you had. ...tell me, have you got two Right socks somewhere too? :-) x

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 Irina
Irina
Sep 13, 2022
Replying to

☺️ I do! I’ve even managed to pair them properly!

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allananscombe7
Sep 13, 2022

Your holiday sounds as though it was a lovely break Irina but I’m sure you will be equally happy on a cold, bleak November morning running into the wind and hoping to get home before the rain starts!! 😉 x

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 Irina
Irina
Sep 13, 2022
Replying to

I am sure I will Allan!!

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zara.chalcraft
Sep 12, 2022

Your holiday sounds idyllic ❤️.

Stuffing water bottles down your bra sounds barbaric 😱.

Another fabulous and thought-provoking read. xx

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errietta.varvogli
errietta.varvogli
Sep 12, 2022

You are so right!!you have to try hard to accomplish the benefits !!You made me understand it very well ,and I thank you for this !!♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

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doug.ward1
doug.ward1
Sep 11, 2022

Love your running, your writing, and, this year, your holidaying! :-). So proud to be able to share them with you…

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 Irina
Irina
Sep 11, 2022
Replying to

Thank you! I am grateful to have you as my editor in chief! ❣️

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