7 Best Travel Tips for Runners
It’s the season for traveling to see family and friends—which can be good for the soul but hard for the training log. Flights and long car rides can make the legs stiff, and sometimes the destination is completely unfamiliar territory in terms of running routes. Not to mention, slices of your grandma’s pecan pie just keep showing up on your plate—how does she do that?
Case in point: Keeping up your training while traveling can be challenging. But we’ll emphasize one thing: Your routine may not stay the same while you’re on holiday, and that’s okay. If you’re spending time with family and friends, take a breather and soak that up for everything it’s worth. Trust us, that’s time well spent.
Below, we’ve got a few tips from Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., owner of US-based company Running Strong, and Chris Heuisler, global run concierge for Westin Hotels, on how to keep your running routine alive while traveling on holiday.
1. Do your homework – map out your runs ahead of time.
If you’re going to be traveling to a new city, do some digging and find running routes you can try while you’re in town. Look into local running clubs, and ask the leaders for any safe route suggestions. And if you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for any ideas too.
“Most of the time, people are just really happy to showcase their town,” Hamilton says.
2. Move around as much as possible while traveling to your destination.
Going to be in the car for eight hours on a road trip? Get out every couple of hours and take a little stroll when you’re at a rest stop for a bathroom or snack break, according to Hamilton. Additionally, if you’re on a plane, stand up and walk around every once in awhile. If that presents its own challenges, like you’ve got the window seat and your other seatmates are asleep for the whole flight, then walk around at the airport while you’re waiting to board. Moving a little is better than not moving at all.
3. Don’t sleep on dynamic warmups.
If you’ve got a run or workout planned for right when you arrive at your destination, don’t take off right away—get your circulation moving with a 10 to 15 minute walk.
“I tell the same thing to people who have sedentary jobs who are sitting at a desk for a while—don’t just stand up and jump into a stretch,” Hamilton says. “Move around some first and then take a few minutes to do your stretches. Give your tissue a little bit of a chance to warm up.”
After your walk, do a dynamic warmup to the muscles that have been asleep for a few hours, mainly your hips and glutes. Exercises such as the Frankenstein walk, scorpion, and hip opener are good options.
If you’re one to usually skimp on your warmup, this is not the time. Your body will thank you later for taking a few extra minutes to do it.
4. Stay hydrated.
Keeping on top of your hydration is important in general, but especially when you’re on the go.
“Hydration is key,” Heuisler says. “It’s too easy around the holidays to grab whatever’s available. If you do that, you’re doing a disservice to the run you just did and it’s going to hurt your run the next day.”
Heuisler recommends water being the first thing you put in your body after a run. A good rule of thumb is to sip your fluids slowly and aim to fully rehydrate within two hours of your run.
5. Figure out your agenda, then let your family and friends in on the plan.
Before you leave for your holiday, think about your training goals for the trip.
“Don’t worry about a missed mile here and there.”
“‘Is my agenda to get to spend family time I don’t see very often?’ If that’s the agenda, embrace that,” Hamilton says. “Don’t worry about a missed mile here and there.”
But if you’ve got a marathon in January and you’ve got to stay on task to make your PR, then be honest with your family and friends at the front end. Don’t leave them guessing—tell them your rough workout plan so if you’re gone for two hours, then they’re not surprised.
6. Invite your family to join your runs.
If you’ve got fellow runners in your family or friend group, by all means, invite them to try a workout with you. But make sure you both know what you’re getting into.
“Make sure that their pace matches what you should be running,” Hamilton says. “If they’re slower than you are, they’re going to feel beat up by trying to run your pace. If they’re faster than you, then you might be doing a workout totally inappropriate for your training journey.”
If a workout together isn’t in the cards, invite someone to do your cooldown walk with you. That opens up the field to just about anyone regardless of fitness level, and it gives you more time to catch up and talk.
“It’s time well spent,” Heuisler says. “You don’t get that time back and you’re getting the endorphins going just by going for a walk with a family member. That’s sacred time, if you ask me.”
7. Even if your plans go awry, don’t stress.
Prioritize your recovery, but embrace the unexpected. If your holiday is a normal one, then things are bound to go amiss. When that happens, don’t freak out. If you don’t arrive to your destination until the middle of the night or you stay up till 2 a.m. catching up with an old friend, don’t force yourself to still do your scheduled 6 a.m. tempo run. Catch some ZZZs instead, and bump your workout to the next day or even two days later. And never be afraid to swap a hard run for an easy one.
“If you do have to move [the workout], it’s okay,” Heuisler says. “I think this is where we are so hard on ourselves. If we mess up with our ‘routine,’ then it’s detrimental to the overall program. I would push back. You have to have some sense of flow and recognize that when you’re on the road, because your routine is thrown off, you might have to move some of your workouts around.”
On top of that, don’t be afraid of trying something new. If you’re in a hotel and have to use the treadmill because it’s zero degrees outside and snowing, don’t count that as a loss. If you’re really feeling adventurous, go out and run in the snow anyway. Taking hold of those unplanned moments gives you mental toughness that you wouldn’t gain from just another regular workout.
“Embrace the unknown, embrace the unexpected—and be okay with it,” Heuisler says. “Realize there’s some really solid improvements coming just from that by developing your mental state of, ‘Hey, I just pushed through a hard workout in a new city and got a little lost and ran three kilometres extra.’ That’s okay. That stuff is good for the soul.”
The Bottom Line:
Your race goals for 2020 are important and worth taking seriously. But there’s also nothing more important than the relationships in our lives. So while you’re traveling this season, savor every moment you get to spend with people you love, whether it’s on a run or just eating pie around the kitchen table.
“You don’t gain fitness overnight and you don’t lose fitness overnight,” Hamilton says. “Keep it all in perspective. Do what you can, but don’t let it interfere with the joy of being able to see family and friends.”
This article originally appeared on runnersworld.com