Keeping up with a marathon training plan, or any other type of workout schedule, while on vacation, is tough. Most of your fellow travel companions probably won’t understand why you MUST run every morning (and not just a couple miles! Many! Double digits! More than once!)- and while no one did this to me- sometimes you may find that people are impatiently waiting to move on to the next activity- tapping feet, arms crossed, “are you done yeeeeeetttttttttt?”
Step one: establish expectations for your vacation- both for yourself and your travel companions. Don’t surprise the group by announcing the morning of a planned excursion that you are not going/will be late due to your 16 miler- shift (don’t cancel) your plans to fit the FUN. Let people know what your running schedule is going to be like! You may find that if the group is simply beaching/laying out/sleeping in that no one minds you strolling in late or meeting them closer to lunch. If your group likes to rise early and hit planned fun- you will need to be up earlier. Get used to the idea before the trip if you know that is going to be the case. Most importantly advocate for yourself (both to yourself and your companions) and do not let people diminish your training goals with unhelpful statements such as “But you are on vacation”. Duh. I love running. This is a part of my vacation.
Step two: Be realistic. If you are on a cruise boat, you will be running nearly 100% of your miles on a treadmill or a very tiny track. If this is a scary thought, this may be a good week to do a planned cutback. If it doesn’t bother you- forge ahead! If you are on land, scout Tripadvisor boards for running locations and other forums- mapmyrun.com may have a route that makes sense for you. If safety is an issue- stick to the gym treadmill. Getting nabbed in a foreign place would not be fun, now would it? I had fantasies of running on the islands, but one check of the forums changed my mind in an instant. NOT SAFE FOR WOMEN.
*hot tip- cruise boats move and it makes running interesting to say the least. We cruised from New York to San Juan with no stops and oh boy did we get some motion on that ocean- the treadmill moves, the ship moves- and it takes a lot of core strength to keep moving. After the first two runs (an 8 and a 12 miler) I realized that having my longest runs while at sea would be miserable- so I changed my schedule and I planned my long run for when we would be in port, with no set plans.
Step 3: Don’t forget to enjoy. My husband downloaded the first two seasons of Homeland onto my Kindle- this took me a long way towards enjoying all of the indoor running! I realized that this time is ALSO my decompression time and I lost myself in a new narrative.
* hot tip 2: I love being a tourist, while running. Really, really love it. There is an amazing company (I am not being asked to write this, I really loved my experience) called City Running Tours – www.cityrunningtours.com that provides either group or private runs in major cities that cater to tourists. For my 29th birthday I ran a 10 mile private tour through the city of Philadelphia and my running feet were ecstatic. I’ve done a 14 miler through Saratoga Springs National Park during a bridesmaid’s dress shopping trip, gotten lost with my mom in more vacation areas than I can count, had to forge through a salt marsh (it wasn’t on the map!)- and every second has been priceless.
Yup- running tourism is where it is AT.
Need more motivation? I ate french fries and ice cream almost every day of my trip. I loved them and do not regret one bite- but I felt better about it because I stuck to my plans.
Step 4: Don’t forget to cross train– I seek out active activities, such as hiking Gross Piton (done with Real St. Lucia tours- more on that, later!)- that also get my heart pumping and my muscles moving. I was SO SORE after that. Hiking is not the same as running. It hurt so goooood. Swimming, biking around islands, etc ALL COUNT! So does walking alllllllll day. Just get that body moving within the same scheduling window that you would at home.
Step 5: Vacations are also for rest, so do not forget your total rest day! I can personally vouch for being the type of crazy that does not rest enough- so after 6 days of running/hiking- I took a day 100% off. This may be your travel day(s)- but I knew I needed it after the hike. My quads were talking to me in the night time hours- imagining running on them made me anxious. I also treated myself to a sports massage. This helped me recover faster from the hike and helped with all of the aches and pains that come with higher mileage. It was ah-maz-ing!
So, that, in a nutshell- is how I handle training on vacation. Depending on your crowd/destination, it may be easier or harder.
Next step- during my research I found companies that do full blown running vacations. I wonder if I can convince Mike!