Written by Coach Laura Brenner
Summer travel season – whether for fun or for work – is upon us. Vacationing while training for a race can be exciting and provide beautiful running scenery. Some of my most memorable runs have happened hundreds (thousands) of miles from my home in Lancaster County. But, training during vacation or travel can also increase stress and challenge runners to maintain consistency.
When we are traveling, finding a suitable place to run or complete a workout and fitting in your training around vacation plans can feel like a burden. But, it doesn’t have to derail your training – here are some tips for how you can stay on track with training while enjoying a family getaway or traveling for business.
Plan Some Runs Ahead
Maintaining your training schedule while on the go doesn’t require hours of research and planning. But it does take some preparation. Google Maps is a great tool to search the satellite imagery near your vacation spot to find local rail trails or greenways, public tracks (most, but not all High School tracks are open to the public), or state parks and forests with trails (and trail maps!).
If you’re looking for trails – check AllTrails before you go to find reviews of trails nearby and graphs of elevation. If you know you need to complete a track workout during vacation, look for a local school or two within driving distance. But have a backup plan if the track is closed to the public – paved greenways and rail trails are good alternatives. Speaking of alternatives…
Keep Your Training Plan Adaptable
If you arrive at the local track for some 400m or 800m repeats but it’s closed to the public, or the trail you planned to run is underwater, closed, or packed with tourists (yourself excluded – you’re a trail runner!). Adapt. Instead of a distance-based track workout, head to your backup rail trail and switch to a time-based workout. How long would it take you to run your track workout? 2 minutes for a 400? 3-4 minutes for an 800? Boom – you have your time-based workout.
If your pre-planned trail route isn’t going to work – have a backup trail prepared or be ready to run those miles on pavement. You may need to adjust your time/effort/distance expectations based on the trail conditions. Instead of a medium or hard effort on that loop, opt for some hill repeats on a different section. For that matter, find any hill and practice hill repeats (critical for any runner, especially trail runners). Or, move your long run on that busy trail to mid-week, when folks are more likely to be elsewhere.
Commit to a Vacation Routine
I know I just told you to be flexible with your plans, but now I’m going to tell you to (try) to stick to a workout routine. I’m a morning runner – I love getting out early (6 am club!) and getting my run or workout done before work. When I’m traveling, even though it’s no fun to be early-to-bed when on vacation, I know I’ll feel better and perform better in the morning. It’s also more likely that you’ll commit to your training while on vacation if you create a routine and stick to it, instead of saying “I’ll figure it out later.”
Do you like to come home from work and crank out the miles in the afternoon? Then sleep in, join the family for a beach morning, and head out for your run or workout when everyone else is enjoying their before-dinner nap. Again, adaptability is key here, sometimes travel and vacation plans get in the way of our “normal” workout times. Stick to the routine as much as you can, but allow yourself the flexibility to move a workout (or skip it) if getting out the door isn’t feasible.
4 Tips for Training While on Vacation
I’ve traveled quite a bit for work (in my previous life) and for fun (I currently live in a van with my dog Piper and am driving my way to all 49 continental states). The general principles above are how I manage to work, travel, train, and sustain some level of sanity. But I have a few anecdotes to get you thinking (or make you laugh).
When I was traveling abroad in college, I was training for my second or third half-marathon. We hotel-hopped for a few weeks, where I often woke up early (see earlier comment about my coveted 6 am club status) and used my easy runs to explore whatever town we were in. Much to my parent’s dismay, I got lost several times and had to consult Google Maps for my location and the best route back to the hotel. Always (ALWAYS) drop a pin at your starting location! When running outside wasn’t suitable, I found the hotel’s emergency stairway. Never did I step foot on a treadmill.
On a recent van trip through Florida, I visited the “World Triathalon Destination” town known as Clermont, Florida. I stopped by the local running store and made a connection with a group that runs from there once a week. I was able to make a few friends and enjoy company on my runs. Most medium and large size cities have some kind of running club. Check the RRCA website to see if your destination town has a running club you can join for a weekend run or weekday workout.
Don’t forget – vacation is meant to be fun. So don’t over-stress about your training. One week of “off” running won’t break your training goals. Get in the runs you can, and don’t stress about the rest. Just plan to hit the ground running (pun intended!) when you’re home and back to your normal routine.
If you have a running goal you want to achieve or want help committing to a consistent running routine, RUN717 Coaching can help. Our customized training plans and athlete-centered coaching will help you train smart and run fast. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your running goals.