C’mon Baby, Let’s Get Away

Five Tips to Make Your Vacation Running Dreams Come True

Ahh…vacation. Sun, sand…stress? As much as we idealize our getaways, staying in close quarters with your family 24/7 in a strange place does have its drawbacks. On the other hand, there may be no better way to explore your new environ and get some precious “me” time than going for a run. Plus, if you’re tired of being a tourist, taking a quick jog will help you feel like a local (until you whip out your phone to snap the landmarks).

When I vacation, I make sure to find at least one day to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement, cobblestones, or cruise ship deck. One of my all-time favorites was Venice, Italy. On my bucket list since long before “bucket lists” were a thing, I’d built up the romance of the city to a level that the crowded, touristy – but yet still beautiful – reality did not at first measure up. On a gray morning, I hopped the vaporetto (public transportation, canal style) with the “real” Venetians, landing at the famous Piazza San Marco, before the tourist crush started for the day. Running through a nearby park and back, I reclaimed my vision of this unique and memorable city.

The most challenging was on an Alaskan cruise, as I circled laps on the heaving deck through the blowing spray. Just weeks into training for my first ever tri, I was determined not to skip any workouts, not to mention justifying the midnight buffet.

This summer, I took my best vacation run ever, at the wildly lovely Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego. Picking my way across ankle-twisting trails weaving past cactus and a rare pine tree that appears in only two places in the world, I was rewarded by stunning views over the cliffs and onto the Pacific beach below. Between the steep trail and stopping every few minutes to take pictures, I wasn’t setting any PRs, but I did return to the hotel refreshed and in awe of my surroundings.

Want to claim a small slice of normal life and see your temporary city like a local?

Set up for success: The cliche “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” rings true. Look at your vacation schedule and find at least a couple of days you can get away. Intentionally pack enough workout gear for those days. I’ve even travelled with a couple of light free weights in my luggage when I knew weight training was on my agenda. If you’re on a training plan, try to stick to it, but give yourself some leeway.

Connect: Look up the local running club or store, or search a site like active.com to see if there are any open running groups or interesting races while you’re there that might fit your plans. Even if you can’t meet up with the locals, the club is sure to have some suggestions for routes, or just find “Nearby” routes on MapMyRun. There are even running tours in some cities. (If you’re traveling for business instead of vacation, exercise is a great networking alternative to coffee or drinks. I’ve made some great connections over Zumba.) At the very least, search online for “best runs in” your destination city and ask the front desk or concierge at your hotel if they recommend any routes. As with any unfamiliar environment, use common sense and consider leaving the headphones behind.

Negotiate: Chances are, your fitness goals will be competing with some or all of: kids’ sleep schedules and interests, vacation activities, jet lag, spouse’s interests, and the list goes on. When I travel, I check in with my husband to see what days he wants to work out or just go away sans bebes (see ”Set up for success” above.) We can generally work out a couple of days for both of us.

Improvise: One of the inalienable rules of vacation is that something will go wrong. It is virtually impossible to travel with the entire family in a strange locale without at least one mishap. So, recognize that you might not be able to work out exactly as planned and roll with it. On my most recent trip, we all woke up later than planned and my husband’s run was delayed. I found a playground near the hotel and did a couple rounds of a seven-minute-workout app while the boys played. Workout checked off the list, and we stayed on our sightseeing schedule.

Enjoy: For me, vacation is a contemplative time. Away from the normal demands of life and seeing a new place, I find space to evaluate my goals and appreciate what I have. I hope you are able to spend some time with your thoughts and running shoes on your next trip.

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