Vacation Running

This is a popular time of year for vacations. We both find that vacation running can be an enormous pleasure. New paths. New scenery. New adventures. New places to explore.

Often, the best way to get a feeling for a new city or area is to run through its streets or trails. If you’re headed out on vacation soon, here are some tips that have come in handy for us over the years:

Do advance planning: Check an online weather forecast for your destination, so you know what to pack. Obviously, our central coast climate is quite unique, and other parts of the country (or beyond) probably have dramatically different conditions than you’re accustomed to. In humid climates, you’ll feel much warmer than you do at the same temperature here at home.

Expand your web search to include running routes or clubs you can find on the road. For example has running routes all over the world, and Googling “running in (your destination)” usually yields contact information for clubs and group runs. Runner’s World magazine has information on its website ( about many national and international destinations.

You can also do advance reconnaissance on your lodging. Check if your hotel has a fitness room or treadmill for those days where you just can’t get outside. Call the concierge to ask about the area surrounding the hotel. How close is it to parks, running trails, bike paths? However, take this advice with a grain of salt, as we’ll explain later.

Pack sparingly: Honestly, it is much easier to run while on vacation than to play golf or tennis or ski. All you need are your shoes, socks, shirts, and shorts, as well as a watch and maybe a cap. You don’t even need new clothes for every day of running – it’s easy to alternate two pairs of shorts or shirts if you set them out to dry after each run. Sure, they’ll smell a bit, but don’t worry about it – these people don’t know you, and they’ll probably just think you’re European.

Find a resource: When you get to town, call or visit the local running store in the area. Ask about interesting places to run, as well as upcoming group runs or special events. A local store can also advise you about areas in town to avoid in the interest of safety.

Go out drinking: Not in a bar, but throughout your trip, so that you stay hydrated while. Traveling often causes dehydration, and in areas of high humidity, your body loses more fluids and overheats much more easily. It’s important to keep drinking water and other fluids to counteract these stresses.

Look for an oval: Sometimes a great workout is as close as the nearest high school or college track. If you don’t have time for your regular 2-hour run, you can maintain your fitness level by doing short-duration speed work on the track. Tracks are great places to find other runners as well; it’s a runner’s version of the neighborhood watering hole, only without all the drunks.

Beware the concierge: We know, we just recommended using the concierge. However, we’ve also run into some difficulty after taking advice from desk clerks or other hotel staff. Just because a local point of interest is a short distance away doesn’t mean it’s safe to run there. We’ve both had encounters with the fringe element of society after being steered towards certain parts of various cities by well-intentioned concierges.

In some cities, local running stores provide hotels maps of popular routes, so ask the concierge if they have anything like that. Better yet, ask if he or she is a runner – you can trust the advice a lot better if they are.

Be flexible: Vacations almost always create daily schedules that vary from your regular routine - especially if you are travelling with kids or other friends. You’ll probably have to switch up your regular running times in order to fit in a run. Don’t worry about the change – just take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves to fit in a short workout.

Sightsee on the run: In many cities, you can check out local attractions or visit historic districts or tour scenic parks wearing nothing more than your running shoes. Sometimes a quick early morning run will help you decide what to visit with family or friends later. You’ll know the best route, where the restaurants are, or where the best views are. And let’s face it – sometimes, there’s not much to those local attractions other than what’s visible on the surface anyway. So even if you don’t spend an hour gazing at the world’s largest ball of mud, you can still come home and tell people that you saw it.

Join a race: Occasionally it’s fun to see how you match up against the local competition – so if you were able to find a race in your pre-vacation research, we’d definitely recommend signing up. Racing against strangers is far less predictable than running in your hometown races, where you know before the race even starts how high you’ll place in your age group based on whose cars are in the parking lot. You might enjoy some nice post-race food or make some new acquaintances as well.

The next time you travel out of town, instead of bailing on your training plans, use them to enhance the overall experience instead. It’s relatively easy to plan for, and the results can be very rewarding.


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