With the arrival of summer taking a vacation is often not far behind.
If you find yourself taking a trip that is in the middle of your race preparation you are left with a dilemma – what should you do?
If you are like most runners you will focus on maximizing your relaxation time.
The good news is for vacations of 7 – 10 days any of the above approaches is perfectly fine.
You can maintain your current level of fitness for up to two weeks by doing next to nothing.
Beyond that and you will start to lose your fitness level.
Assuming you want to at least something on your next vacation I have 3 tips to help you stick to getting some training in effectively.
Tip 1: Run in the Morning
Some like to run in the morning while others prefer afternoon or early evening.
But while you are on vacation, I highly recommend that you run in the morning. Vacation often can result in large blocks of unstructured time.
Without having constraints on your time it is easier to push your training until later in the day when you also may have little on the agenda and ultimately it never happens as daytime sight seeing opportunities arise or a nice dinner at a restaurant followed by drinks kills any chance to get out and run.
This tip is even more important for those who might be doing a lot of hiking while on vacation.
Hiking takes a lot of effort and after a day on the trails your legs can be left feeling spent.
Running afterwards is not recommended – the fatigue can negatively affect your form, making you much more susceptible to an injury.
Tip 2: Don’t Just Run
Keep up with any injury prevention exercises you are doing.
If you have equipment that you use for this that is impractical to bring with such as a foam roller focus on exercises that don’t require equipment or pack easy to use equipment such as resistance bands that are light and take minimal space in your luggage.
You may also consider strength exercises that require no equipment at all or can be easily conducted on mats at a hotel gym.
Tip 3: Stick to the Basics
Don’t focus on details such as pace or hitting certain mileage goals. Just get out and run, even at an easy pace.
An easy pace is sufficient to maintain your fitness gains while you are traveling.
In fact, if you are in the middle of a structured training program an easy week might be just what you need to come back and crush it once you return home.
The only exception to this is if your vacation occurs during a core week of training – such as the week of your longest long run in preparing for a marathon.
Identify early on where vacations will occur so that you can make adjustments to your training plan.
One example would be to shift an easier week to your vacation week and move the more rigorous training week before your vacation.
Remember not to be a slave to the training plan, make it fit your lifestyle. With few exceptions such as key weeks in marathon preparation, there won’t be impact to your race goal.
Where to Run?
A lot of times you may not have an ideal place to run, or you may fear getting lost. Don’t let it become an excuse to skip your workout.
Try to explore the area you are going in advance on Google Maps and even the Streetview feature and find places you might want to run.
Sites like Map My Run or if you use a Garmin running watch Garmin Connect may have routes that are laid out by runners who actively run in the location you are vacationing. You might be able to find ideas there or even the local running path.
If you are in an unfamiliar area or out of the country where your smartphone may not work do not fear getting lost. Plan to run straight out and straight back so you can’t get lost and make note of points of interest along the way.
If there is truly no where to run, don’t be afraid to use a treadmill in the hotel gym. Remember you are just sticking to the basics in most cases and looking to keep your fitness level maintained.
What To Do Once You Get Home
When you come back from your trip and want to resume training, you can usually begin training at the same volume and intensity as before you left if you were gone for 7-10 days, especially if you were able to get a run in once or twice.
You don’t lose a noticeable amount of fitness in 7 – 10 days.
Pick up right where you left off and repeat the same week that you had before you left.
This ensures that you’re not doing too much, too soon since you had an easier week than the plan calls for.
We have a saying that the first two miles are the worst miles. This may be particularly true coming off a vacation. But stick with it, after a workout or two you’ll be back at it.
If your vacation was longer than 10 days and you did nothing while away, you need to ease back into your training plan.
Repeat the prior week before you left and reduce the mileage of each workout by 20%.
If time allows, follow the first week back with a repeat the week before you left as outlined. Then proceed with the plan as scheduled.
If you return home and your first day back is a scheduled speed workout day, skip that in favor of an easy run instead. Never resume training with speedwork as your first run off vacation as your risk of injury is higher from your time away.
A vacation can be a great complement to your running goals.
Don’t let it prevent you from signing up for a race or fear your training will be thrown off track.
Remember to not be a slave to the training plan and feel comfortable reducing your training while away. The time away will leave you rejuvenated upon your return.
As you grow in experience as a runner, you will find period periods of rest and your regularly scheduled rest days as essential to your training as your long runs.