Thursday Training Tip #6
Running on vacation : 10 tips for keeping fit while travelling
The toll lady was, disappointingly, unsurprised to see me. It seems many walkers and runners make the switchback-upon-switchback climb up Mount Igeldo in San Sebastián. And it would seem that runners and walkers are also not exempt from the €2 toll to enter the grounds of one of the best located fairgrounds going around, even if they have run up the back way and are more interested in running down the other side of the mountain than going on the dodgem cars. It’s funny where running takes you sometimes. Certainly when I set out to do the 20km loop from Urgill Hill to Mount Igeldo on a Saturday morning in San Sebastián I was not expecting to find a fairground at the summit!
But, that’s the beauty of running in new places, and running while on vacation. My running kit is always the first stuff into my case whenever I go away. Mainly because it’s small and fills the little crevices in the bottom of my case, but also because it signals to me my intention to keep exercising while away and to hopefully see new things while doing it.
However, while going for long runs while on vacation is all good, vacations aren’t meant to be all about running, or whatever exercise takes your fancy. It’s about experiencing the places you visit, the culture, the food, the landscape and the people, so you can’t always be following your training schedule. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out your training schedule completely. You’ve worked hard up to your vacation (especially if you’ve worked for a ‘beach body’ for a seaside destination), so you don’t want to throw it all away to pursue a week or two of hedonism. The answer is balance. Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your travels while allowing you to keep up with your workouts:
- Pack your kit. If you take it with you, you’ll most likely use it. You’re hardly going to go out for a run if all you’ve got is beachwear and sandals, are you? If you’re into cross training, try taking some resistance bands with you. They take up no room and very little weight, but will give you the opportunity to add some resistance work to your days. They are also good for helping you complete a good stretching routine after a hard day touring around a new city.
- Go For a Run: My personal favourite (in case you hadn’t noticed) and a great way to explore your local area and get to ‘know’ the city a little bit more. If you’re in the countryside, you’ll likely see scenery and landscapes you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to see. Take a map or your smartphone in case your sense of direction leaves you a bit crossed up and you need help getting back to the hotel. Also, if you’ve crossed timezones a run in the mornings can help you adjust to the time difference faster according to this Runners World article.
- Split the difference. You’re on vacation. Take it easy and relax. Aim for 50% of your usual routine so you stay in shape without making exercising the focus of all your spare time.
- Plan and pack your snacks. If you’re on an eating plan, plan ahead and take some ‘approved’ snacks with you when you go out for the day. That way you’ll be able to stay on target and resist the bagels/pizza/gelato/tapas or whatever delicious and calorific treats that you come across on your touring.
- Combine sightseeing and exercise. Running is one way, but why not plan in a cycling or walking tour in advance? You’ll see the sights, learn information from a guide that you won’t be able to learn from books, and also be doing a workout at the same time. And, no, a Segway tour does not count…
- Use Your Hotel Room. Huh? Ok, you don’t need to do this if your hotel has a gym, but if not, you can do a small workout in your hotel room. Dips on a chair, lunges and squats in the bathroom, pushups and situps next to the bed. They are all good exercises which are easy to do in your hotel room. Stay away from Burpees though, you don’t want housekeeping getting the wrong idea about what’s going on in your room…
- Take your favourite DVD. I’m not talking about your favourite romcom that you pretend to enjoy while she pretends she doesn’t know you’re pretending. I mean a workout DVD. If you have a favourite workout or are doing Yoga/Pilates/Insanity/P90X or whatever, pack a single disc that you can pop into the hotel DVD player if you have a spare half an hour. You might be a bit cramped in a hotel room though, so go easy on the more vigorous moves.
- Water, water, water. I’m not talking about making sure you stay hydrated when you’re out and about, though that is important. Instead, if your holiday is by the water or the seaside, make sure you get in it! Swim, snorkel, dive, take a windsurfing lesson. Water sports are awesome exercise and something that most people don’t get to do very often. Combine a workout with a brand new experience to really get the most out of your location.
- Walk to Dinner. Sounds so simple but so often you’ll just flag down a cab. If you can walk to your destination, do so. You’ll see more of the place you’re visiting, get a bit of a workout, and can scout out the area around the hotel for a good place to go for coffee, dessert, or my favourite, a nightcap. Or all three. Come on, you’re on holiday. It’s OK!
- Get competitive. Try a ‘race-cation’ and plan a trip around a race. I’ve planned 3 marathons as race-cations and can definitely recommend it. Sound too much like hard work for you? That’s OK, if you’re travelling with a friend or partner try to come up with some activity you can both do and then make a game out of it. Who can hold the longest plank in the morning, do the most laps in the pool, get closest to their handicap in a round of golf. Winner chooses where to eat dinner and the loser chooses tomorrow’s activity.
Going on vacation doesn’t need to mean that you have to stop exercising. Next time you go on vacation try out these 10 tips for keeping fit while travelling and see how easy it is to keep up with some exercise all while increasing your experience of your destination. Plus, you’ll have earned that Gelato or that extra drink for a nightcap. Or both…
Happy running (and travelling) everyone!
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Blog post: Back from holiday and back to reality