As marathon training gets underway, I am finding myself already trying to rearrange runs on my training plan to fit them in around our travels. Fall races are my absolute favorite, but this usually means maintaining training during some of the busiest months of the year. While summer running can be very satisfying, it definitely presents its challenges.
Aside from the heat, one of the biggest challenges of summer running is trying to continue training while on vacation.
My vacations are usually active ones (hello hiking), or at least involve very little scheduled activities and plenty of time to fit in a run before doing some relaxing. On vacations that are more structured, I usually end up counting those hiking miles as easy run mileage on my training plan, or biking and swimming as cross training days.
However, when you are in the peak of a training plan, opting out of a few miles may be risky business. Finding that you have a long run scheduled in the midst of vacation may feel intimidating, and more often than not I find myself contemplating whether or not I should run on vacation.
Running on vacation brings many opportunities for exploring, sight-seeing, and extra endorphins during your trip. If you are planning to continue training while on vacation, or just hoping to stay on track with your long runs, here are some tips to consider. Make the most out of your training and enjoy those miles while traveling.
10 Tips to Successfully Conquer Running on Vacation
Use Footpath or another app to find any trails within running distance
I always find where I’ll be staying on the map ahead of time and use my Footpath app to see if there are sidewalks or trails close by. Footpath lets you map out your exact mileage ahead of time, so you know exactly what roads and sidewalks you’ll be running. You can easily figure out if you’ll be able to run to that nearby trail or make it to the downtown streets.
Run to the beach or through the trails in the forest to explore some of the area! Planning these routes ahead of time help you feel confident in your route, allow you to let others know exactly where you’re going, and help you avoid getting lost in an unknown area.
Check out the sidewalks on your way into town
Seeing nicely groomed or extra wide sidewalks always makes me so excited. The day we arrive to a new place I like to take a walk or drive around the streets nearby to find out if there are sidewalks and shoulders where I’ll be able to run.
Checking out the area ahead of time helps you prepare to avoid any roads without a shoulder and navigate towards the safest routes for pedestrians. Vacation towns usually have a popular trail of some sort and driving around town before a run helps me figure out how I’ll be able to access this trail.
Plan to run or workout early in the morning
One of the biggest challenges of running on vacation is trying to find time to complete your training. I have discovered that if I don’t purposefully wake up early to run, it won’t happen. Once others are awake, the temptation to sit around and relax becomes so much bigger.
Mentally prepare yourself for a few early mornings to fit in your longer runs. Waking up early on vacation may sound dreadful when all you want is a few days to sleep in, but the feeling of productivity that comes afterwards will make up for it. Plan to complete your training runs early in the morning so you have plenty of time for sight-seeing, beach trips, and relaxing throughout the day.
Struggling to wake up early? Check out these 20 strategies I used to work out every morning at 4:30 am!
Plan ahead and rearrange your training plan
One of the best tools to help make running during vacation successful is planning ahead. If your vacation is going to be busy and full of activities, start rearranging your training plan a few weeks early. A busy vacation may mean that you need to complete your long run on Tuesday rather than Saturday.
Spend some time mapping out your runs, and remember that rearranging training during vacation may mean you need to swap a few workouts around the week prior to your trip. It will be much easier to fit in a 4 mile run during vacation than it will be to carve out time for a 20 miler, so plan accordingly.
Bring cash with you in case you stumble upon some really cool shops or treats
You never know when you will stumble upon the greatest, most unique shop in town! Running during vacation provides us with so many opportunities for sight-seeing on foot. Bring a little extra cash with you in case you run into something really cool that you’ll want to take back to your family. Plan your runs to be a little more relaxed to allow yourself time for a break if the opportunity presents itself.
Run without headphones or music so you can be extra alert
You can never be too cautious. Running in a place you are unfamiliar with means the surroundings can be more dangerous than your usual route. You may accidentally find yourself running through the shady part of town, or wind up on an isolated dirt road. Being aware of your surroundings is important no matter where you are running, but especially when you are unfamiliar with the area.
Jamming out to music sounds appealing but makes it much easier for a car to turn out in front of you unexpectedly or someone to come up behind you by surprise. Look out for yourself, especially in those new-to-you places.
Let someone know where and how far you are going
Continuing with the idea of safety, it is important to make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you expect to be out. Cell service in some vacation destinations can be hit or miss, and you never know what could happen when you’re three miles from home. Make sure someone knows where you are going before you head out – this way, if you fall and twist your ankle they’ll know where to look for you when you don’t return as expected.
Take your cell phone and snap some pictures along the way
Bringing your cell phone when running during vacation is important for safety, but also because you never know what cool landscape you might come across. Take your phone with you to snap some pictures of that beautiful sunrise, city skyline, or the most colorful flower you’ve ever seen. You never know what you might find!
Get creative with your cross training
Many vacations involve a lot of different activities, and sometimes we forget just how strenuous these activities can be. If you are heading out for a vacation full of hiking, sight seeing or swimming, include these activities in your training. Rather than trying to run in the morning and then feeling exhausted for your afternoon hike, count that hike as cross training. If you have some easy runs planned, don’t be afraid to count those hiking and walking miles towards your runs.
Check in with local running stores
No one knows the area better than the locals. If there is a running store in town, check it out! They will be able to tell you some of the best running routes, the safest areas, and some really unique details that you may otherwise have missed. There might be a trail worth driving to or a sidewalk that runs right along the water.
There are so many ways to continue training on vacation. Plan ahead, be flexible, and enjoy your new surroundings. While you may find yourself frustrated in the fact that you can’t sleep in or miss out on an hour of relaxation, completing those training runs is almost always worth it. Remind yourself of your end goal and why you signed up in the first place.
If you are still in the beginning of training or don’t have any important workouts scheduled, be sure to include your vacation activities in your training workouts. No matter how structured your training plan is, it can always change. Focus on the positives of running on vacation and the memories will stay with you forever.