First off, let me just say that I LOVE to travel. Every year for the past 5 years I have gone to Europe in the summer. This time I just got back from a two and a half week jaunt with my sister. We went to London for 5 days (always stop here, it’s a great base and my sister used to live here), rented a car and drove around Sicily for a week, and then flew to a tiny Greek island Astypalea for 5 days. And yet while I love to travel, I have never really enjoyed running on vacation. Partially I think it was because I never really liked running as much as I do now…but also I think it was because I was in vacation mode and didn’t want to bother with exercise. So this time, I went into my vacation with the plan to run 5-6 easy times a week and to track what I liked and didn’t like about running while traveling. Here are some tips that worked for me and changed my view on running during vacation!
1. Keep the route simple
Some of you are going to disagree with me about this tip, you’re going to say that running while traveling is the perfect opportunity to explore and make you’re route up while you go; which is great if you’re that kind of carefree runner…but I am not. That has never worked for me because a) I’m a bit of a control freak so I like to know where I’m going, for how long, and how far before I step out in the morning; and b) I have a horrible sense of direction soooo I’d probably never make it back to my hotel room. Therefore, I favored the out and back routes; I’d run in one direction until I’d hit my halfway point and then turn around and run back. This way I could be more relaxed while I ran and it never got boring because I’d notice different things on the way back.
2. Wear a GPS watch
In the same vein as above, I always wore my watch so I knew how far I was going. This doesn’t mean I was checking it all the time to look at my pace or time or splits. I just wore it to listen for the tiny mile beeps so I knew how far I’d gone. I also think it’s really fun to keep track of my routes so I can go back and say ‘oh yeah, that was when I did an easy 6 in London” or “look how high I climbed when we were in that tiny hill town in Sicily.” It’s a fun diary of all my old runs.
3. Don’t overdo it!
This is not the time for a crazy hard work out or training plan! Save the super long runs, Yasso 800s, fartleks, and hills for when you get home! I kept pretty busy during the day walking and sightseeing so I generally just ran an easy 5-6ish miles every morning. I wanted to save some energy for the rest of my day…and I don’t think my sister would have appreciated lugging a worn out blob around all the time either. (Running a bit in the morning also made me feel a wee bit less guilty when I was gorging on pizza, pasta and gelato every day!). That said there’s no harm in having a good long run in the morning before or evening after a long travel day!
4. Time your runs
Be respectful of your travel companions! Try not to bug them by going on a run right at prime time or taking up the entire morning to go on your run, shower, and rest. My sister would not have appreciated that, let me tell you! Also, I tended to run in the morning. This way I could get up a bit earlier while my sister slept and then I had it out of the way and I didn’t have to think about it. Also, if I could offer one piece of advice, don’t run in the evening after a garlic-y Greek lunch…trust me, it doesn’t end well!!
5. Don’t be afraid to find a local running group or race
Big cities always have lots of running groups and races going on, especially in the summer. Stores like Lululemon and Nike usually have weekly run clubs which are free to join, have multiple skill levels and distances, and don’t require sign-up beforehand. You could also probably check out any local running store or search online for upcoming races. When I was in London I went to the Local Lululemon run club. It was great running with locals; I got to go on a great tour around the city (and not worry about getting lost), and they also offered some great advice for things to do while visiting.
6. Take a Camera
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy….I just ran with my iPhone so it doubled as my music player and camera. It was a bit annoying to carry but I never regretted it! Some of my favorite parts of the trip were when I was out running early when all the streets are quiet and the workers are just starting their day.
7. Watch where you’re going!
This seems silly, but trust me it’s important! Definitely look around you and take in the scenery, but try to keep one eye on the path too…otherwise you’re going to be face to face with the sidewalk (take it from someone who knows)!