After posting about my vacation last week, I received a few comments about fitting in working out while on vacation. The two things I personally struggle the most with are logistics/safety (finding a safe place to run, etc) and guilt (taking time away from vacation, not spending time with people). I’m by no means an expert on this topic but I’ve learned a lot in the past few years about making time for training so I thought I’d share what works for me. I hope this is helpful!
One of the most important things when running on vacation is to make sure you’re safe. If you’re running in a new-to-you location, research the area to identify any running trails or well-lit, populated areas. Look for resources like map my run to see if others have saved routes nearby. I also find that the people working the front desk at hotels can be great resources as well. When Ian and I went to a wedding in Michigan in July, I asked the concierge for a recommended route and she sent me through downtown Chelsea because she knew there were sidewalks.
Make sure the people you’re with know where you’re going. Often, I’ll verbally explain to Ian or my family where I’m running and then bring along my phone in case I get lost or have an emergency. I know some people use an app called Glimpse which allows someone else to track you through GPS which sounds like a great idea.
If you’re running and start to feel unsafe — don’t risk it! You don’t know the area and there’s clearly a reason you feel uncomfortable. For example, I went to Mexico with my mom once and was uncomfortable running too far. We mapped out a 2 mile loop and my mom left the hotel with me and grabbed coffee at a cafe in the center of the loop so that she’d see me pass fairly often.
Bring water! If you’re running in a new area you won’t know if there are drinking fountains, if it’s shaded, etc. It’s better to be prepared. I always travel with either my handheld and/or my fuelbelt just in case. Also, all normal safety precautions apply. Wear sunblock (if you normally do), bright colors if you’ll be running along the shoulder of a road or if it will be dark out, reflective gear, RoadID, etc.
My family knows how important running is to me and I’ve made a point to explain that running is my “me-time” and a really healthy, mind-clearing way for me to start the day. They also know I’m much less likely to be crabby if I can fit a run in first thing . Make sure to explain this to the people that you’re traveling with, most likely they’ll understand!
Even though my family is completely fine with me running while on vacation, I still try to accommodate everyone’s schedules when planning a run. Usually this means running first thing in the morning. My family wakes up fairly early and likes to start the morning reading the paper and drinking coffee before launching into vacation activities. I also know that Ian will never turn down an extra hour or so of sleep. I make sure to get up and run while they’re participating in their normal morning routines so that my workout doesn’t cut in to any activities.
Running through different areas can be a fun form of exploring so if you feel guilty for leaving family to go for a run, invite them along by foot, bike, roller blades, etc. My mom biked with me around Mackinac Island and even though we weren’t chatting much, it was fun to have her along and I felt better knowing she wasn’t sitting around somewhere waiting for me.
Find an activity that everyone can enjoy like yoga on the beach, a walk, or hiking.
Before I leave for vacation, I try to prioritize my runs. This is especially critical if I’m training. When I went to northern Michigan two weeks ago, I knew that fitting in my 12 mile tempo run and my two 10 milers was more important to me than running the 6 mile recovery run on Friday. I made sure to take Wednesday easy on my legs so that they’d feel okay for my Thursday tempo run and then was super active on Thursday because I knew that I’d be okay skipping my run on Friday if I was too tired. Skipping didn’t end up being necessary because I woke up feeling fine but I would have been okay with missing my run if need be. You can also rearrange your schedule so that you only have easy runs or shorter workouts on vacation.
Sometimes it’s not possible to run on vacation and that’s okay. When I went to Nepal in 2010, I barely ran. It was hot, I had to be covered up, and it wasn’t very safe. I think I ran three times in three weeks. It happens. I picked a half-marathon a few months after my trip as a goal race to get back in shape and ended up PR-ing. Sometimes a break is a good thing.
If working out is really going to stress you out or make you unhappy, don’t do it. Like I said above, a break can be good, and everyone needs one from time to time. If a complete vacation is what you need, then by all means take it!