When you think about vacation, rest and relaxation usually come to mind. However, if you’re training for a race like a marathon, that may not be what’s at the forefront of your thoughts. Instead, you’re thinking: How am I going to make sure I don’t miss any important training runs?
The good news is running and vacation can coexist as long as you are prepared. Follow these five tips and you are guaranteed to keep up with training on your vacation — and even get some insider tips from locals on where to eat, shop and play (when you aren’t running, of course).
1. PACK ACCORDINGLY
Just as you would for a race, make a packing list so you don’t find yourself without any of your running must-haves. Sure, your running gear might take up more room in your suitcase, but being prepared for any type of weather helps you avoid having excuses to miss a run.
The good news is you don’t have to bring multiple suitcases, and with a bit of planning your everyday clothes don’t have to smell like dirty running shoes.
“When packing for a trip, put your running shoes in a bag and stuff them with dryer sheets to make sure the rest of your clean clothes don’t smell like running shoes when you return,” shares Ryan Warrenburg, coach at ZAP Fitness. “Or better yet, find a bag that has a separate pocket where you can stuff your running shoes and dirty clothes.”
Doing your research and having plastic bags for dirty clothes can help keep everything separated and make it much easier to unpack when you get home.
2. STUDY YOUR DESTINATION …
You are probably already doing some research on landmarks and places to eat, so as you look at the area, map out some places to go for a run.
“If you want to be more regimented with your running and need a workout, it is always good to check out nearby parks to accommodate more uninterrupted running,” suggests Eric Orton, world-renowned running coach and author of The Cool Impossible. “If your location is very [limited], find natural obstacles and the landscape to create a challenge. For example, run to the nearest hill and do repeats or run all the stairs you pass along the way. If you are at the beach, run on the sand and in the water for some strength training.”
Using technology can be a great way to find routes that are favorites among locals, and MapMyRun is a great way to see where you’ll find others doing a workout or long run. You’ll also have the opportunity to see more of the place you’re visiting because you’ll be on foot and have time to notice more architecture, art and culture in the city than you would in a car or bus.
3. … BUT DON’T SHY AWAY FROM ADVENTURE
If you don’t have time to scope out the local running scene or aren’t getting reception where you are, don’t panic. Sometimes, just going out for a run and seeing where your feet take you is a great way to get in your mileage. Orton suggests taking public transportation a few miles away from where you’re staying and then running back to your hotel as a fun challenge to learn your way around the area.
“Some of my best runs have been with no itinerary or plan; just head out the door with a general sense of direction and landmarks in mind,” adds Orton. “I will play a little game with myself and look at a map before I go and then not look at it again while out running and see if I can make it back to the hotel without looking at the map. This forces you to really pay attention to streets and landmarks and all of the intimate things that can take place during a run.”
4. START YOUR DAY WITH A RUN
Of course vacation is often jam-packed with activities, so getting your run in first thing is a great way to make sure you don’t push it until later, which often means tomorrow.
“If you can carve out some time in the morning, it frees up your day,” notes Warrenburg. “Then you don’t have to worry about lunch getting moved back or dinner getting moved up — and it’s a great way to get the day started, whether you’re on vacation or business.”
Going for a run in the morning also means you can avoid crowds so you can check out the area before fellow tourists are out and about. You will have less dodging and weaving to do and can make note of any restaurants or stores you’d like to return to later in the day with your group.
5. FIND A LOCAL RUNNING STORE
Before heading on your trip, make note of any local running stores nearby. Not only will they be your go-to stop should you forget any gear or need some gels or electrolytes, but they often organize group runs that you may be able to join.
“On your first run, plan to run to the nearest local run shop and see if they have group runs planned or can offer up suggested routes,” adds Orton.
Knowing the location of a running store can take away any stress you may have as you pack, especially as you triple-check all of your gear — and can help you find the best routes to explore the city. Even better, meeting people in a running group can help you get suggestions for where to eat or explore off the beaten path, meaning you can experience the culture in a way other tourists may not.