Marathon Training on Vacation

We’re back in Hilton Head Island for March Break. It’s a yearly pilgrimage for our entire family, and I’m almost always in the midst of marathon training.

Getting my full compliment of training runs in, along with two long drives presents a few challenges, but nothing that can’t be over come with some planning.

Compromise and fit everything in

I ran this morning in Huntersville, NC, where we stopped for the night on our 1,600km drive south. My normal Saturday run is about 6km, so getting in just over 5km while the kids and Ginny were getting ready to roll was a nice solution.

Yes, you can run here. Seems crazy, but that’s a bike/pedestrian lane.

Tomorrow I have a 26km run on my schedule. I actually moved the training up a week a couple of weeks ago so that I’ll have a step-back run of 19km to do next weekend instead of 23km and 26km long runs. That’s part of the pre-planning that goes into fitting it all in.

26km isn’t all that easy to map out on an island this size. Looking back over my logs, I used to run out and back routes of up to 30km when I was here, but last year I discovered that you can run up and over the Cross Island Parkway Bridge which opened up some new roads to me.

Tips to make it all happen

With a little give and take, and some planning, getting your training in while traveling is more than possible. It can actually be quite enjoyable to have some different roads to run on those long Sunday runs.

Some of my tips if you find yourself training and traveling:

  • Don’t sweat it – if you can’t get all your runs in, that’s not the end of the world. Do what you can and you’ll be fine.
  • Plan in advance – look at your running schedule and your vacation schedule and fit the two together. Figure out when you can run, and when you can’t and modify your training to fit.
  • Check out some local routes – Strava, MapMyRun and other training sites can help you figure out where it’s safe to run. Don’t forget about the local running stores too – look them up on the web and drop in for a visit or check their website to see if they have favourite routes.
  • Be ready for warmer weather – if you are traveling south, keep in mind it may be warmer than you are used to. Don’t forget the sunscreen, and make sure you pack that hat and a bottle of water or gatorade. If it’s much warmer than usual, ease back the pace too.
  • Pack smart – bring your usual energy drink, some gels, a variety of running gear for different weather. Of course, make sure you bring your running shoes too, and your Garmin or GPS watch so you can show off where you’ve run
  • Enjoy it – a change of scenery is often just what the running doctor ordered. New sights to see, and new roads to run…it can make the time and miles pass more quickly when you are out on your long runs.

I’ve done long training runs in Amsterdam, Germany, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, California and other crazy places. Running around while on vacation seems like it’ll be a waste of your precious relaxation time. But if you love running, then you’ll love running in different places even more.

Have fun, and good luck with your training.