A running vacation

Vacation is supposed to be relaxing. You lay off the routine, you eat and drink a little more, you sleep in, you rest, you recuperate and you recover. That’s the ideal, anyhow. Then there is vacation with children. Or minimalist camping (I’m fussy without a solid mattress beneath me). Or trying to maintain running and training through your vacation.

A True vacation spirit

Sun, sand, surf… and silence. (Photo credit: Kenzoka)

I often thought I should take a running vacation instead of just a vacation: go to a destination where I can train, but that the scenery is different and there is no “other.” No routine, no work, no lunches to be made. (And yes, I’m going to say it: no kids that I have to take care of). All very good as an idea, but I do have a family and where I go, we all go. I can’t really expect two kids to stay somewhere while I dictate the whole schedule based on my moods and recovery levels. (Wait a minute, I can hear my husband thinking, that sounds like regular life to me!)

I am currently on vacation, visiting my in-laws and my mom. In both places the weather is considerably warmer than where I live. The weather is hot: 35C/95F. It is relaxing (someone else is doing all the cooking), I’m not going to work, and the kids are mostly entertained and content. Yet I am not sleeping in, and I am worried about my training schedule. I am specifically worried about losing whatever fitness I have pushed myself to gain to this point, and of coming back in two weeks to join my running buddies for a 32 km run, and being left behind.

On Wednesday it is usually our hill training night with the running clinic, and I had planned to do this workout on my own on the same day. I woke up early and hot (we were sleeping in a tent). Because of my rustling I think my husband thought I would not only wake the kids but also the whole neighbourhood; he suggested I go for a swim. It was 6:15 am. I did swim, and felt better after; another workout completed.

We traveled that day to my mom’s house and arrived by late afternoon. I had planned to go into town and run hills. I had even scouted out a route; I had a plan.  At 6pm it was still 33C, and I was told the route I had planned had evening sun until about 8:30pm. I was already exhausted from the day; this workout was not going to happen.

My husband reminded me that the workouts will still be done, but being on vacation means allowing a little more flexibility in my schedule.  I could do the workout the next morning, instead of later in the evening. I was relieved to hear this; I often need someone to reassure me that change is okay!

Not losing my routine is critical for me. I definitely feel better when I am staying active, and know that there may need to be some changes to compensate vacation for my routine. To keep most of my workouts I can get up earlier than everyone else, work out later, or change my expectations of my workouts. This will help keep me and the family happy.

Part of fitness and getting stronger is recovery. We do not get stronger doing the workouts, it is in the recovery and healing that we gain fitness. Taking some days off here and there, or changing our workouts can result in improved fitness. Often we hear of athletes who could not train due to injury, but then come back stronger than before. We taper before a goal race or event to allow our bodies to be fully recovered and at full strength. This is recovery taking effect and allowing our bodies to heal in that stronger state.

I did my workout the next morning and felt better for it. I ran strong, and felt relieved. I have a 29 km solo run looming that I need to get done this weekend, but I also have already decided that my usual run on Friday will be shorter or easier or less intense than I do at home. I am allowing myself this because I can, because it’s hot, and because I’m on vacation.

*Do you run while on vacation? When do you do your workouts? Does your workout schedule/routine change if you go away?


10 thoughts on “A running vacation

  1. I really struggled with this same issue on my recent trip to Wyoming for my daughter’s wedding. Like you, I have to stick to my training plan, or it completely throws me off my game. We camped as well, and running was problematic. It caused much distress for me, at first, then I surrendered to the chaos of camping and preparing for an outdoor wedding and was happy to at least get in a few hikes. The rest definitely did my legs some good, and at least the nagging shin splint pain I had before the trip has completely disappeared.

    Did my overall fitness suffer? A little, but it only took one week to get back on my game. I think we have to accept that running on vacation is tough, that we usually won’t be able to stick to our training plans, that the rest will also do us some good, and that we’ll still be ready for our target races. Fighting the frustration and wishing it was other than it is only makes it worse.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

    • Thanks for this reminder, Angela!
      I am finding that fighting to get it all done is causing me a bit of distress. It’s funny, as it’s harder to do while away from home when I am actually *doing* less, than when I am home. I do crave the routine of my training schedule, as then I know what to expect and know the workouts are getting done.
      My biggest issue here is the heat… as you know very well where you run.

      Good to know your fitness did not suffer too much. I’ll keep that in mind for sure!

  2. I hope it feels great when you get back to your routine. I bet it will make you stronger in the end, even though I don’t know how that all works scientifically.

    It seems that there would be major benefits to a small break- like the previous person said, her shin splint disappeared! Who knows what little things will be healing inside you, and which minor injuries or nuisances will be avoided because of this break 🙂

    • Hi Jen! I’m hoping that there will be some benefits to wrangling my brain around running less and not being able to go out as much as I wanted. Still one more week, and more travel is coming up. I think sometimes you really do have to step back from your life and let it be a little different. I’m just having a hard time mentally letting go of my own expectations of things.
      Take care!

  3. I TRY to make an effort to workout while on vacay, especially if there is a beach involved, but I can’t say it always works out perfectly. It definitely takes a lot of willpower to do it!

    • It definitely does involve willpower to keep working out while on vacation. But the loss of fitness when I am training for a goal race is enough incentive to keep me trying to get in as many workouts as I can!

    • Hi Martin,
      I also run on vacation for the simple fact that the long break will cause me more suffering when I return to my regular schedule than to just continue on, slightly modified.

      Thanks for your comments, and for the link to your blog post. I’m going over to read it right now.

  4. Yea, staying on – or is it getting off? – the wagon when it comes to running on vacation is never a good idea for me. Also, as much as people can’t believe this could be true about anybody, I really enjoy running; it’s something relaxing and generally gives me more energy. I like the change in scenery, location, and route when I’m not in a familiar place.
    Good to hear from a fellow runner!

    • I also completely enjoy running. Certainly there are days when I don’t want to go, but still do. Like being on vacation, it’s much harder to get back on track after missing a few days than to just keep going and at least maintain my fitness.
      A change of scenery and route is great. You definitely see things differently on your feet than driving by, or even biking.
      Thanks for your comments!

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