Packing for Slovenia, I questioned the sense in taking my trainers and running kit. After all, this was meant to be a relaxing holiday with plenty of sunbathing by lake Bled and a few gentle walks through beautifully-tended cowbell meadows. But as usually happens in these circumstances, the trainers won and I somehow managed to find a few extra cubic centimetres in my case to squeeze them in.
It took a whole five days before I eventually gave in to the urge to get out there and work up a sweat and this in itself was no mean feat. Usually, irritability due to lack of exercise sets in after only a couple of days so in Slovenia I was doing well. It must have had something to do with the fantastic place we were staying in, the mind-blowing scenery, the great food and fine company. Save for two days when it absolutely chucked it down - we were all having a great time.
The run itself took me through Zasip, the local village, and two kilometres or so down to Bled itself. This small town is Slovenia's most popular tourist resort and it isn't hard to understand why. Talk about picture postcard - this place is utterly stunning. Built at one end of a large, naturally-heated glacial lake renowned for its healing properties and world-famous for its rowing facilities, it's a classy, unspoilt retreat where gambling, eating, walking and, well, chilling out are the order of the day.
Hitting Bled, I headed straight for the lake and the well marked path that circumnavigates it. It's about five miles round and when I reached the water's edge I wondered if I was going to struggle a bit. I hadn't run properly for a couple of weeks or so and here I was talking an eight mile run in a foreign country having gorged myself on pizza, pizza and more pizza for the past five days.
I carried on nonetheless feeling comfortable and enjoying the views of the Julian Alps in the distance. Half way round and I still felt great. The air felt cleaner here than back in the UK and my lungs were loving it. I picked up the pace a little and before I knew it I had completed one lap of the lake. Now all that remained was the two mile uphill schlep back up to Zasip.
I was expecting pain but all I got was pleasure. My energy levels were sky high and this was a doddle. Even the steep finish up to the church was easy and in no time at all I was back at our lovely Alpine Retreat www.alpine-retreat.com. What a run. Have I ever felt as comfortable doing eight miles? Probably not. Maybe it was the fresh Alpine climate that agreed with me so much. Perhaps the beautiful scenery. Or maybe the fact that I was relaxed and having a wonderful holiday. To be honest, it was all of the above.
Slovenia is a top holiday destination but as I am finding out it's also a quality place to use as a training base. So much so that I'm already planning to go back - with both flip flops and trainers packed neatly side by side.