One of the great things about running is that it is so thoroughly portable—all you need are clothes and shoes, and you’re all set. But when you’re on vacation, the physical terrain, family responsibilities, and the schedule of activities can make it challenging to maintain your regular workout routine. And that can be frustrating—especially if you’re preparing for a half- or full marathon. Follow these tips to keep your training on track, even while you’re away.
If you want to get a long run in while you’re away, or just see some of the locals’ most scenic routes, reach out to some local running clubs and make plans to meet. It’s a great way to make new friends, and see a part of the area that you might not hit with the family or with your other activities.
If the schedule or the surroundings make it impossible to run, there’s probably some sort of physical exercise you can do. Calvin Coolidge famously said that “We cannot do everything at once. But we can do something at once.” In that spirit, move any way you can, and stay as active as possible in the course of your activities each day. Hiking and cycling may not help you boost your leg turnover but it will help build quad strength that will help you when you’re racing. Jump in the pool—you can stretch out your muscles and find a range of motion that you don’t typically reach during your regular running workouts. Play chase or tag with the kids. Use a pedometer and track the steps you take each day. Try not to stress too much about any missed miles. You won’t lose a significant amount of fitness after a few missed runs. Any physical activity you do get to will do your body good.
Even if you’re not able to get your workout in, if possible, maintain your workout time. Even if you’re not getting the same exhilaration you would get from a run, keeping that time to yourself to get outside and spend time in nature will help you get some of the mental and emotional lift that your regular running workout provides.
Toting along dumbbells to your destination likely isn’t practical. And often hotel fitness centers are crowded, or lack the exact equipment you need. But there are plenty of very challenging strength-training moves that you can do anytime, anywhere, without any equipment. Pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, planks, are all examples of exercises using body weight that can help you get strong.
Sleep is prime time to get the recovery you need to run your best. Take advantage of your time away to catch up on your sleep. Without enough sleep, your energy levels, immunity, and mood drop, and your appetite tends to soar. What’s more, chronic sleep deprivation compromises your running performance. Avoid having big or spicy meals in the evening that could upset your stomach and keep you awake. Avoid caffeine after noon. Give your devices a vacation too—turn off the phone, iPad, computer and screen 30 minutes before your bedtime.
While it’s fine to indulge a bit on vacation, especially if you’re not waking up early for a session at the track, try not to go overboard. It’s easy to let your eating go off the rails when you’re away from home and your normal eating routines. Often, when you’re on vacation it’s hard to find your favorite stand-bys that keep you feeling energized and in balance while you’re at home. Before you leave home, do some planning to figure out what stores carry any particular foods or drinks that you feel that you can’t do without.