In the final rushed hour of packing before my 8:30 a.m. flight, I seriously considered leaving behind my laptop. After all, it’s spring break and the Wi-Fi will be spotty, and how much work am I really going to get done anyway? Nevertheless, I lugged that hunk of metal to LAX, put it in its own bin to go through security and cracked it open for the least amount of time as possible during my week in Costa Rica.
I had a similar aversion to the running shoes I packed for Costa Rica as well. They’re a pain because they’re so big — I usually have to wear them on the plane to save room in my suitcase. I knew I would use them on some of the hikes we were doing, but whether or not I would use them for their intended purpose was a different story.
Actually, that makes it sound as if my friends and I were as active as the Costa Rican sloths. We weren’t. Most days, we got up early to squeeze adventure into every hour of our spring break: horseback riding, hot springs, ziplining, rainforest hikes and swimming in a green crater on top of a volcano.
By the end of the day, we were exhausted. As I was too exhausted, the same excuse that usually plagued my busy non-vacation days won out over exotic exercise.
At the end of the week, though, my friends and I took the last few days at a picturesque resort town to really relax. There were no excursions planned on these days, only hot dates with the sand and the sea. On our last full day of vacation, we decided to get up early and go for that beach run that we had been talking about the entire trip.
The weather report said it was supposed to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit by 8 a.m., so we got up at 7:30 a.m. to beat the heat. The beach had fine sand and a sparse scattering of seashells, making it the perfect place to try the barefoot running I have always been so curious about. My running buddy Jenny and I took off across the wet sand with the ocean waves coming up to nip at our feet every few minutes.
Almost immediately, we could feel the burn in our calves and achilles and feet. All of those muscles that are usually cushioned and cradled in our running shoes were now working overtime to keep propelling us forward. Not to mention, the wind whipping across the waves was almost as much of a hindrance as the sinking sand beneath our feet.
We ran to one end of the beach and then to the other, a total of four miles in all. To my aching muscles, it felt like six at least.
To my mind though, it felt like two miles of novelty. Jenny followed in the footsteps of the horses that were trotting through the sand. I raced a dog and nimbly avoided some stray coconuts. After our run, we were relieved to dip our feet in the cold Pacific water and stretch out our muscles with a little beach yoga. Not an hour later, we were out for the count, asleep at our hostel for the best two-hour nap of our lives.
If every run would have been as exhausting as our beach workout, I’m not sure we would have had the opportunity to fit in all of the other activities, the ones that Costa Rica is known for. Jenny and I got blisters on the bottom of our feet from our barefoot running and the post-run nap cut into our afternoon beach time. It was a fun experience, but I don’t feel guilty for skipping out on runs earlier in the week.
There are so many other ways to make the most of a getaway. I’ll still be packing my sneakers for the next trip, but I won’t have any high ambitions for a regular workout on vacation. My laptop, on the other hand, can stay at home next time.
As they say in Costa Rica, pura vida!
Meghan Coyle is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. She is also the online managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Chasing Pavements,” runs Tuesdays.