Whether you are escaping to an exotic location for some rest and relaxation or flying cross country to spend a week in hotel and conference rooms, traveling can interrupt even the most devoted runner's schedule. With some prior planning and the right attitude, runners can maintain their training during vacation or an important work trip. In fact, running can be an enjoyable addition to anyone's travel schedule.
When you are doing your vacation research, don't forget to get a little information about the running community in your destination, too. Search online for the websites of running clubs or running stores where you will be visiting. They may have routes mapped out and even weekly social runs that you can join.
Sign Up for a Race
If you are going to have extra time on a weekend morning, look for a local 5K or 10K to run. Race routes are usually through an interesting or scenic part of the city and provide a fun way to see the area you are visiting. There's also the added bonus of a safe, well-marked course with adequate hydration stops.
Many hotels offer free fitness centers, so be sure to call beforehand and find out what your hotel provides. Even better, if you can choose your accommodations, search area hotels and choose the one with the best facility. But have a back-up plan for the situations when you check-in and discover that a fitness center isn't available or not in great shape. Slip a few of your favorite work-out DVDs in your suitcase to watch on your laptop or find workouts online.
It may seem like obvious advice, but don't forget to pack running clothes. Nothing will derail your best intentions quicker than realizing that you forgot your running shoes. Look at the weather forecasts for your destination and bring the appropriate clothes. Even though it is blazing hot in July where you live, that running jacket that you have packed away may feel good on an early morning run somewhere else.
The most important thing to bring on any trip is dedication. It's not easy to stay focused and fit in your workouts when you are in "vacation mode." It can be just as hard on a stressful business trip. Decide before you leave home that you will run! Commit to getting up an extra 30 minutes early or hit the gym while everyone else is taking an afternoon nap.
Even if there's a packed day of sight-seeing planned, don't assume that running will make you too tired to enjoy it. Remember your training not only makes you a better runner, but it also gives you more endurance to tackle hours on your feet at the zoo or amusement park. Getting in your daily run can give you more energy to enjoy your day!
There are a few precautions to take any time you are running in an unfamiliar city. It's important to listen to the locals. If your hotel's employees say it's not safe to run, then don't run in that area. Ask for other suggestions or just skip your run. There's no workout that's so important that you need to risk your personal safety. At all times know where you are and how to get back to where you want to be. Let someone know when you leave and when they should expect you back.
Most runners are passionate about running, which makes it easier to work fitness into traveling. However, it is important to find a balance between your training and fun when traveling with loved runs. Remember, the goal is that your spouse, children, and other traveling companions see how running makes you healthy, happy, and more fun to be around. Try not to let them see you stress out about squeezing in your runs. But do let them see you returning from your runs stress-free! Maybe someone will ask to join you on your next run.
Dallas Running Examiner Sara Johnson is an RRCA-certified running coach who has been running for more than ten years.
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