When it comes to vacationing runners, there are two extremes: those who struggle to muster up the will to squeeze in even a single run, and those who pack the free time with hard workouts, long outings, and double sessions, possibly irritating their travel companions in the process. As with everything in life, moderation is key.
"Three moderate distance runs a week at a moderate to hard pace will help maintain your base fitness, allowing you to return home feeling rested and rejuvenated," says Kari Smith, a Philadelphia-based running coach. Whether you're planning a getaway with a jam-packed itinerary or a leisurely trip with no real schedule, here's how to stay fit (and happy) while you're away.
Do a Pre-Trip PushDo an extra-long run or especially tough speedwork a day or two before you leave, says Chris Heuisler, who oversees running services for Westin Hotels guests. This will justify doing little to no running during the first couple days of your trip, when you'll need to recover from both the workout and the travel. The hard effort may be your best workout in weeks because you'll know that a big rest lies just ahead," Heuisler says.
Heuisler, who has run in 36 states and nine countries, understands that "hard training and a leisure vacation can be contradictory," but he ups his own mileage on many trips because it's his favorite way to see new places. If you share his enthusiasm for on-the-run exploring, limit the increase to 10 percent of your at-home mileage to avoid injury, and pay extra attention to hydration, stretching, and self-massage.
Plan for Company
There are several ways to arrange to join local runners at your destination. One is to book a guided run—similar to a sightseeing bus tour, but on foot—on a site like cityrunningtours.com or globalrunningtours.com. Another way is to check your destination's running club website for details of group runs during your visit. Most welcome visiting runners.
Or you can find a race. "See if there's a 5K or 10K when and where you're going," Heuisler suggests. (Check out our Race Finder.) "Even if you treat it as a training run, you'll get the chance to meet local runners who can offer insider tips on where to run, where to eat, and what to do in town."
Or Go It Alone
If you'd rather stick to solo runs, consider plotting out routes before you leave. Mapmyrun.com and our Route Finder tool each offer thousands of routes mapped by local runners with precise distances and elevation profiles. Or if you're planning-averse, try Smith's technique: "With no route in mind, my husband and I ran past Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Regent's Park on a single run, with stops to take pictures," she says. A little guidance goes a long way, however, so if you're staying at a hotel or resort, ask the concierge to recommend some good, safe running routes.