Vacation Running: 5 Tips for Keeping up a Training Program While Traveling

I LOVE vacation runs. There are a great break from my usual running route and are often scenic and a great way to see a new city. A few of you have asked how I manage to get in so many runs on vacation and how I have kept up half marathon training (we’re running Rock N Roll Cleveland this weekend!!) while taking two weeks off from work. Honestly, it hasn’t been hard at all. I’m not working so I have more time to run. I’m on vacation, so I can do really whatever I want – and if what I want to do is run, then I can do it! Here are some tips from a non-running professional:

  • Incorporate running into your itinerary B planned our trip itinerary and knows how important running is to me so he literally wrote down our runs into each day’s plans. It was a rough itinerary with suggested activities but this helped us stay accountable. I knew exactly what we were doing each day, including our runs, ahead of time so there were no surprises.
  • Pack accordingly Yes, this should be obvious, but bring sneakers, socks and running clothes, in layers. Running is great because you can pretty much do it anywhere if you have the right clothing (no gear needed!), so pack it! I knew we’d experience different weather from Seattle to LA, so made sure to pack shorts, capris, tank tops, long sleeves and short sleeves. Plus, I brought fun running clothes, where possible (bright shirts and shorts that I like wearing) to make it funner.
some of my fave running clothes - bright pink shirt, bright blue shorts!

some of my fave running clothes – bright pink shirt, bright blue shorts!

  • Research routes ahead of time Do some research ahead of time to find out if where you’re staying will be in a running-friendly neighborhood or if you’ll have access to a treadmill. If not, find some fun parks or places around where you’re staying to get in your run. Try searching online to find your route – it’s often just easy to google “Running around [name of city]”. You never know! For example, I knew we would be in Hollywood when we wanted to do our 15k so I googled, “Running around Hollywood” and found a reservoir that had a 3 mile loop for walking/running, along with a few other parks that runners had recommended. Always google ahead of time, even if you think you’re in a running-friendly area. For example, in Napa it sounded like the X Trail would be a great place to run. It’s a trail, right? WRONG – it’s actually just a road and I found that a few people actually stated that it was not good for running. Another great place to look is on local running stores’ websites – I found a local running store in Napa that had Saturday morning runs I could have participated in if I had wanted to!
The Hollywood Reservoir ended up being a perfect loop for our 15k in LA - and we found it by just googling running paths.

The Hollywood Reservoir ended up being a perfect loop for our 15k in LA – and we found it by just googling running paths.

  • Make the runs fun! Unless you’re going for time or training with speedwork or something, consider taking along a camera or your phone to take pics! We had a few days of easy runs so decided to stop and take pics along the way or run through neighborhoods we wanted to visit anyway. No – it’s not ideal if you’re doing 4x400s and going for time or heart rate, but if you have an easy run scheduled and don’t mind sacrificing your time, then try it out!
We planned this San Fran run around touristy locations so we could take pics

We planned this San Fran run around touristy locations so we could take pics

See, running AND being a tourist!

See, running AND being a tourist!

  • Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a run or stray from the schedule We didn’t follow our schedule perfectly – and that’s okay! For me, it was most important that I cover the basic mileage, especially the longer runs. Since we still have a few weeks until our half marathon, I was okay with missing a speed workout or even missing a shorter running day. For example, when looking at the schedule on Wednesday night, we realized that doing our 15k Saturday morning before our 9 a.m. pre-BC game festivities may not be the most fun, especially after going out for B’s birthday Friday night and hitting up a 10 p.m. comedy show. Since Thursday was a scheduled off day, and we both felt fine after Wednesday’s 3 miler, we decided just to do our 15k Thursday when we knew we’d have the time. Same thing with Napa – we did our 10 miler on a Friday when we were supposed to do a 5 mile pace run. The 5 mile pace run may have never happened, but a few days we walked plenty of miles around the cities and on the Sunday we left LA (a rest day) I got in an easy 5 miler instead. Remember – it’s your vacation so just enjoy! In a few weeks you’ll likely remember the time you spent sightseeing and hanging out with friends, not the 3 miles you skipped because you went to a brunch.
  • BONUS: Have a running partner / friends that support your habit The thing that made it easiest for me to run during our entire vacation? Having an awesome running buddy to hold me accountable – B! I don’t know if I would have kept up with all the runs if he hadn’t been there to run nearly every run with me. He helped me make sure they were fun and didn’t interfere with our vacation activities, and of course pushed me when I needed to. Don’t have a running partner vacationing with you the entire time? Find a running group in the city you’re visiting (as I mentioned above, I found a Napa Saturday morning running group on the local running store website, visit friends who enjoy running (both Katie and Melgar enjoy running and it was great to run with Melgar so that I could spend more time with her!) and can give you running route ideas, or even just make sure to visit friends that “get” runners. We all know those friends up get annoyed when we work out, we run, etc. We all have a few of those. Wing is not one of them – he may not be a runner, but he was more than happy to go for a walk while we ran and also gave me the keys to his apartment complex gym so I could get in a run one morning while he and B slept – both things I really appreciated.
Running with Melgar meant our fastest vacation run!

Running with Melgar meant our fastest vacation run!

AND running with B mean I can take pics like these

AND running with B mean I can take pics like these

And because I know you’re all wondering, here are our vacation miles from our West Coast adventure – some of our final training miles as we get ready for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Cleveland THIS WEEKEND!

  • Saturday: 9 mile run on the schedule
    Actual – ran 9 (in Cleveland) right before hitting the airport. I ran while B packed/did laundry/etc.
  • Monday: 4.5 mile run on the schedule
    Actual – ran 4.55 throughout Seattle Tuesday: 40 minute tempo run on the schedule Actual – ran 40 minutes but focused on fartleks, including a 2 minute sprint up one of Seattle’s hills (ouch!)
  • Wednesday: 3 miles on the schedule
    Actual – ran 3.1 miles in Seattle
  • Friday: 5 miles at pace on the schedule
    Actual – ran 10 Saturday’s 10 miles Saturday: 10 miles Actual – ran 3.5 miles at pace around downtown Napa
  • Monday: 5 miles on the schedule Actual – ran 5 miles around San Francisco
  • Tuesday: Interval run, 9×400
    Actual – ran 3 miles around San Francisco, just above pace time
  • Wednesday: 3 miles
    Actual – ran 3 miles sub-pace (8:45 min miles)
  • Thursday: rest day on the schedule
    Actual – ran 15k around Hollywood Reservoir
  • Saturday: 15k on the schedule
    Actual – rest!
  • Sunday– rest
    Actual – ran 5 miles on the treadmill before our flight! I find it much easier to sit for 4 hours if I’ve run ahead of time. With our flight not leaving until 1 p.m. ET, I knew I’d have time to run while B and Wing slept, and after two rest days my legs were itching to move!

Some questions for you – and my answers as well

  • Do you run on vacation?
  • What tips would you add? Stay hydrated! At work I keep a big 32 oz water bottle on my desk and make sure to drink at least 2-3 of them a day. During vacation it’s not as easy, and we often are imbibing on drinks and salty food, which can make runs more difficult.
  • What’s the hardest thing for you about staying on schedule on vacation? Early morning runs. If I don’t run in the beginning of the day, I know it won’t happen when I get started on all our other activities. I also feel guilty sometimes running when I’m spending time with those that don’t run – it’s as if I’m missing out on spending time with them.
  • What’s your next race? The Cleveland Rock N Roll Half Marathon! This weekend. Wish us luck!

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