Planning to run a destination race? Here's how to pack, travel, stay loose, and hydrate to run your best.
Race First, Play Later
Front-load your racing, and save the zip-lining and street-food sampling for afterward—lest such adventures undermine your race-day performance. The best way to make sure you put racing first is to remember these 10 Golden Rules of Race Success. "Discuss expectations with your travel companions before the trip," says Barb Lindquist, a former Olympic triathlete who now recruits talent for the USA Triathlon National Team Program. "Lay out your needs for your race, and figure out a way to accommodate their eagerness for fun and adventure."
Include some training sessions that replicate the weather you expect at your destination. To teach your body how to cope with heat and humidity, physiologist Krista Austin, Ph.D., suggests wearing extra layers during workouts, progressively increasing their warmth through taper time.
Heading somewhere chilly? Run on air-conditioned treadmills, or outside in the early morning. Beyond adjusting your internal thermostat, this practice helps you anticipate the gear you'll need on race day (which you should pack in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost). If you still need suggestions, use our What to Wear App to put together your perfect running outfit.
Travel exposes you to new pathogens, and tough training sessions combined with travel-related stress and fatigue can weaken the immune system. Ward off race-day sniffles with vitamin C: A 2013 Cochrane Review report found that it helps prevent colds and reduces their duration, especially among marathoners and others who undergo brief periods of stress. "Take two grams daily, starting a few days before your trip," says Ben Greenfield, a personal trainer and performance coach who also recommends packing hand sanitizer and maintaining strict pre-trip bedtimes. "Starting off well rested helps your immune system survive the stress of travel."