High country running holiday

A running holiday: for the real feeling

A running holiday in the mountain air: Armenia

About 90% of Armenia’s land area lies at around 1,000 m above sea level, with the average height lying at around 1,800 m. The highest elevation is the extinct volcano, Aragaz at 4,090 m. Our tours are for the most part at heights in the range of 1,800 m. However, we do not run in alpine terrain

What we do during our running holiday is training in healthy, stimulating mountain air. Increasing performance is not linked to this per se and is also not the aim of this running holiday. We want to give you an understanding of a wonderful country, make you familiar with a foreign culture and offer you an unforgettable holiday with people who have the same interests. We want you to enjoy the wonderful Armenian landscape in a relaxed way during the course of your running holiday, without pressure as regards the pace, strict timing and the trainer spurring you on at the edge of the route. The term “running holiday” already tells you that you are of course welcome to bring along your heart rate monitors. However, there will be no “training to the limits” as at home on the tartan track.

A running holiday – what does that actually mean?

We have sought out Armenia for our running holiday – not only because we have excellent knowledge of the country and love it because of its rich culture and hospitable people. Armenia offers a magnificent holiday destination precisely for runners: a top healthy, vegetable-rich cuisine and a gorgeous and above all, untouched natural setting with routes rich in variety. Thanks to its altitude, the major part of the country is sunny and still pleasantly temperate during our travel dates in the summer. A running holiday with F.I.T. is therefore mainly appealing for sports connoisseurs. They want to enjoy experiences and at the same time not lose sight of their favourite hobby, running. And they want to “chat” together with other runners in the group or with the entertaining trainers from SmartRunning – about running, their runs and their joys and fears with regard to running. Let it be mentioned here that a running holiday also always has something to do with the group experience. If you want to discover Armenia with the Lonely Planet in your rucksack, without a fixed route, then we would advise you to go an individual trip.

A running holiday – strength lies in calmness

As has already been said, our running holidays are directed towards connoisseurs – and of course also towards non-runners. In Armenia, the clocks tick a little bit differently than they do here, as in most countries on earth; that’s why we want to provide you with the following tips at this point:

•We have time. A running holiday has nothing to do with a marathon run. Let yourself be motivated by the SmartRunning coach on the route, if you get tired in-between – and treat yourself to a break. Our accompanying trainers are real experienced experts far as running is concerned; they know the feeling of thinking you just can’t go on only too well. A coach transfer is available at all times.

•Non-runners value a running holiday – no, of course it’s not the running, but the joint group experience: awestruck amazement when the cool calm of a church filled with the fragrance of candles and a devout atmosphere enfolds you like a warm coat, the exotic smells and cheerful, high-spirited discussions during a joint barbecue dinner, the trainers’ one-liners, the views from the cars of the longest aerial tramway in the world and the rich stories told by the hospitable Armenians. So we, the F.I.T. running holiday team, look forward to non-runners for whom we have made all the arrangements such as, for instance, smooth bus transfers.

•A typical running trip has a lot to do with group dynamics and group decisions. Very infrequently, it also happens that solutions need to be found outside of the specified travel plan – it might be that the major part of the group wants to leave out a run or prolong another one. Many of you already have a running trip behind you and are familiar with this process; at this point, we just want to let the novices among you know so that you are prepared for this.

A running holiday in the mountain air: the scenario

For our Armenian adventure, it will be very important for you to take it easy. The body has to get used to the adjustments for a few days – the unaccustomed height, lack of sleep due to the night flight to Yerevan, somewhat higher temperatures in the city and the “excitement” of meeting each other will challenge you. But don’t worry; the SmartRunning coaches and tour guides know about these realities from their first trips and running holidays. This running holiday, therefore, engages in a scenario that will leave you time and space to develop a real running holiday feeling. It’s important that you let us know immediately about any worries or woes – we are also happy of course to hear if something appeals to you especially.

A running holiday in the mountain air: can you prepare?

You can hardly believe it: mountain running or, as in our running holiday in Armenia, hilly endurance runs do not burden the muscular system as much as a hard street jog or track training. The fact that good street joggers can cave in on the mountain and, on the other hand, average street joggers can reach new heights on the mountain shows that even with mountain running or the hill running technique (nearly) anything can happen. You can safely forget the striding, springy step of the street jog because of the continuously changing terrain. Much more, you should switch back in good time to a quick walking pace when a slope comes up in order to keep the exertion level as consistently high as possible. The upper part of the body forges ahead slightly; the stride frequency is, as in street jogging, as high as possible – it’s important to concentrate power in the calves and thighs. Well-trained anaerobic endurance or high lactate tolerance helps in coping with the comparably high pulse values in the mountain air. As ideal preparation for our running holiday, you should train on a 500 m long steeply sloping section once a week – at least, three or preferably four “at full pelt”, whereby the third run should be the fastest. Please have a good warm-up run beforehand (3 km); afterwards do a relaxed run down. ABC running drills – which, by the way, the trainer team is happy to demonstrate, don’t only serve to improve your style. They also mobilise scores of muscle groups required for smooth running movement in the hilly terrain. Exercises such as skipping, backwards running, sideways running, high knee running or kick backs should, however, always be carried out at the beginning of a training unit – that’s when your strength is at its greatest and you are concentrated.

A well profiled shoe is essential. The F.I.T. running holiday partners LaufBar will advise you on equipment for mountain running and trail running with numerous models, which are also very attractive in terms of price.