How to Keep Up Your Running While on Vacation
You hear it often at this time of year: A fit and focused runner goes on vacation with visions of staying that way—but reality fails to live up to that vision.
What gives? All that free time, beautiful scenery—and a bunch of zeroes in the training log. Why do vacations derail our running, and what can we do about it?
It’s actually the very lack of routine that can make running while on vacation such a challenge, says Roberto Mandje, New York Road Runners’ manager of runner training, education, & products. “As runners, we love our routines, and we may feel lost without them,” he says. But there are ways to adjust and get in the miles wherever your vacation plans take you. Use these four tips if you’re planning a late summer getaway—but also training for a big fall marathon.
1) Safety first. Whether you’re vacationing in a neighboring country or halfway around the globe, your biggest priority is to run safe. Usually that takes some planning, says Mandje, who’s traveled the world as a professional runner and also lived in 12 different countries growing up. “Wherever I go, I try to reach out to a local running club about safe local routes, and places to avoid,” he says. “Runners are happy to share this information with visitors—you might even be able to join a group workout”—something that will keep you safe and motivated.
If you can’t find local runners, check local clubs’ websites for ideas and courses. If all else fails, find a track for predictability and precision.
When running in other countries, particularly in rural areas, Mandje contacts the local U.S. embassy or consulate. “They’re more than willing to give you detailed advice and guidelines on staying safe—that’s part of their job,” he says. They’ll also help you understand local customs. “Women running in shorts or tank tops, or men running shirtless, is going to draw unwanted attention in many parts of the world,” he notes. You’ll be safer keeping a low profile.
On your runs, trust your instincts—just as you would anywhere. If you feel vulnerable, turn around and get back to safety. Mandje and several training partners were once running in a remote, mountainous area in Ethiopia. “Things just didn’t feel right,” he recalls. “We all felt it and collectively decided to cut the run short.” He later learned that there had been lions in that area.
2) Fit it in. You may relish sleeping in on vacation, but most runners find that just as in their daily lives, getting up early is the best way to fit in a run. “It’s really not fair to make your family wait around for you to sleep in, then go for a run,” says Mandje. If a 6:00 a.m. run just isn’t in the cards for you, try late afternoon or evening, he suggests: “I’ve done plenty of vacation runs at 9 or 10 o’clock at night after a full day of exhausting sightseeing. As runners, we do what we have to do.”
Other options include running to local destinations such as museums or the beach, running during cocktail hour, or taking advantage of a hotel treadmill even if that’s not normally your thing.
3) Stay in touch with running buddies. Keep up your routine of posting your runs on social media and keeping up with your friends’ workouts. You’ll feel accountable—and your friends will be able to ooh and ahh over your accomplishments and the amazing scenery along the way.
4) See the big picture. Sometimes, on some vacations, missed workouts are going to be inevitable. And you know what? That’s okay. Yes, it may feel like nothing short of a disaster to miss a long run (or cut it short) so your kids can enjoy Disney World, but in the grand scheme of things, you’re going to be fine. “In any 12-week or 16-week training buildup, you’re going to miss runs here and there, for all sorts of reasons,” says Mandje. “Try to feel blessed when the reason you’re missing them is so you can enjoy your family, have a unique experience, or spend time in a beautiful place.”