This month claims one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, which means many of us are starting to think about driving/flying home to be with family over the holidays... or else we’re thinking about driving/flying somewhere remote to avoid being with family over the holidays -- no judgement. Either way, it’s important to weigh the impact travel can have on your running routine.
At worst, being away can totally derail a training plan. Hey, foregoing a tempo run or two for a long lie-in and some room service is super tempting while in holiday mode. But, if done right, running on vacation can also do the opposite: reinvigorate a stale workout routine and help a person fall in love with the sport all over again. Experiencing a new place on foot is arguably the most visceral way to sightsee. And -- bonus -- it can also help you get rid of any lingering jetlag as well as those three pounds you’re likely to gain while away from home.
So, how should one go about being a strange runner in a strange land? Here are five tips for a safe, enjoyable runcation:
- Pack appropriately: Not every culture will appreciate a bare midriff or pair of lycra running shorts. If your plan is to, say, run through the pretty trails of Istanbul’s Belgrade Forest or along Beirut’s Seafront Promenade, you’ll want to have some loose-fitted gear. (Pro tip: Throw some dryers sheets in as well to keep the stench of musty shoes or clothes from penetrating the rest of your suitcase.)
- Plan ahead: Consider looking up the routes of local races or enlisting the help of MayMyRun or Strava to help you nail down a designated path. If you’re staying in a hotel, check with the concierge -- or, if you’re really lucky, running concierge -- for popular places to pound the pavement. But don’t be afraid to get just a little lost, too -- it’s a fun way to get off the beaten path and discover sites you may want to revisit later. Just be sure, for safety’s sake, to run during daylight and to carry the address of your hotel or homebase, just in case you get a little *too* lost. And, in case you go longer than expected, have enough cash for cab fare tucked into your pocket or shoe.
- Consider a running tour: From San Diego to Sydney, most cities offer group and personal options that will accommodate a variety of abilities. Some tours focus on history, nature or pop culture, while others incorporate beer. Best of all, you’ll get to check out all the places you can’t see from a bus or trolley. For a list of options worldwide, check out runningtours.net.
- Connect with locals: To find a community’s running group, do a search on Facebook or simply pop into the local running store. Joining a group run is, at best, a great way to meet like-minded friends. At worst, you’ll get an insider’s view of a new city and all the best places for post-run refueling.
Plan a race for after the holiday: All the distractions of a new place will deflect some of those pre-race jitters. Plus, having to taper over vacation will give you some wiggle room -- no need to feel guilty if you pause for a selfie in front of a monument or to take in the view. And no need to feel guilty if you skip a run altogether for an afternoon of snorkeling or sunbathing or bar-hopping. It is vacation, after all.