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How to Keep Running While on Vacation

Running while on vacation is not as daunting as you may think. Even if you are going to a place you have never been before and even if it is going to be much hotter than you are used to, you can do it! It will take a little planning and commitment but it is definitely doable and well worth the benefits!

To date I have managed to keep running on every vacation I have taken in the past 15 years. These vacations have been in hot climates, places I haven't been before and on cruise ships. I will share with you how I managed to run on vacation but first let's look at the benefits of running while on vacation.

5 Benefits of Running While on Vacation

1. Lessen the Effects of Jet Lag

Getting your body moving by running will help you feel more energized, overcome the sluggish feeling that often comes with jet lag and quickly adjust to a different time zone. I find this is also true when I return home after vacation. For this reason I try to do a run by the second full day of arriving at both the holiday destination and returning home.

Running While on Vacation

2. Counteract Extra Calories

Most of us will eat more food while we are on vacation. Running while on vacation will help keep our weight under control. It will also help motivate us not to overeat. Who wants to run after indulging in a meal twice the size of our normal portion?

3. Provides an Incentive to Drink Less Alcohol

When we are on vacation, we tend to drink more alcohol. After all we are celebrating a well deserved break from the usual routine. This is especially true if your holiday is an all-inclusive package. If it is your intention to go running in the morning, you will be more aware of your alcohol intake the night before and will perhaps limit it more than you would otherwise. I usually aim to run every second morning to help develop a balance between relaxation and self-discipline.  

4. To Feel Better

Unless you are doing an active holiday (hiking, touring, cycling, etc.), there is usually lots of inactive time—relaxing by the pool or on the beach. Running while on vacation will help offset this lazy mode and give you more energy.

5. Maintain your Running Fitness

Any running that you do while on vacation while help keep you fit so that when the holiday is over, it is much easier to resume your regular running routine.

Tips for Running While on Vacation

The following tips and suggestions are what I have found most helpful  from my experiences while running on vacation in various places and situations.

1. Pack your Running Shoes in your Carry On

It is probably not likely but in case your checked luggage gets lost, you will still have your running shoes. Everything else is more easily replaced. 

2. Download Google Maps to your Smart Phone

It is not always easy to have mobile data or wi-fi when travelling so it is a good idea to download the map details of where you are going before you leave home. Google Maps lets you download an area on your phone that you can use even when you don't have access to the internet. It will stay on your phone until you delete it. 

This feature is very useful when you want to run in an area that you are not familiar with. It is not so daunting to run in a new area if you don't have the added concern of getting lost. 

3. Run Early in the Morning

If you are vacationing in a hot climate, it will be cooler earlier rather than later when the sun is high in the sky. Doing an early morning run also ensures that the run get done. Plans have a way of changing and can often interfere with a run planned later in the day.

If you do an early morning run, it will in most cases best suit others you are on holiday with and will not interfere with any plans made for the day. And also, unless they are also runners, they will probably still be in bed by the time you get back!

4. Don't Set Ambitious Goals

Remember you are on vacation and you want to enjoy it. Don't expect to achieve fast times or complete longer runs. I believe you should take the approach of being in "maintenance mode." I usually aim to run every second day and do about 8-10 km runs. I can usually achieve this without interfering too much with holiday plans.

5. Running on a Cruise Ship

I have been on two cruise ships and I ran on both ships. Usually the center deck is open with a walking/running surface that goes all the way around the ship. It is usually shaded and cool from the sea breeze so it is a great running track. You will have to do numerous laps of course to get some distance, but don't try to count the laps. It will drive you crazy!

I usually set a time of about 50 minutes to run, which for me is about 8 kms. Remember if the ship is at sea and the ship is moving, your sports watch cannot track your distance. If you try, you will wonder why your watch is showing so many miles/kms as it will also include the distance the ship has traveled!

"Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

-- Author Unknown 

6. Running on a Beach

This is my favorite option for running while on vacation—but it is not always possible. If the sand is soft and deep, it will be very difficult to run on. However, a long flat beach with solid sand provides a great running surface and I love to run on those in my bare feet. I am used to running in minimalist shoes, so it doesn't cause a problem for me.

If you don't run in minimalist shoes and you want to try running barefoot on a beach, do it in short segments. Perhaps run in your shoes for most of your run and then in bare feet for a short time at the end of your run. Slightly increase the distance each time if there are no problems. However, if you notice any twinges, pain or discomfort, stop immediately. Barefoot running can feel great but it requires a lot of time and patience to allow your body to adapt to the new running style.

7. Road Running

The easiest run to do in an unfamiliar place is an out-and-back road run. Find a long road and run half the distance you want to achieve, turn around and run back. Loops are more interesting but will be more challenging to find your way. However, a downloaded Google map of the area will help you as mentioned in #2. 

Be wary of the road rules and conditions as they vary in most countries. Try to run facing traffic especially if there are no dedicated sidewalks (pavements). Any time you are unsure of right-of-way, just stop and proceed when you are sure it is safe.

8. Marinas, Parks, Canals and Rivers

Check the location you are staying for marinas, parks, canals, and rivers. These areas are usually very scenic and provide very enjoyable runs. Many cities have developed great walking/running areas along their canals and rivers. 

Most places will be safe in a tourist area, but be sure to check with your hotel to get advice on places you may need to avoid, especially if you are running alone. 

So no more excuses for not running while on vacation. On your next holiday be sure to pack your running gear. You will be so glad you did. My holidays runs have always been enjoyable and memorable. 

So how about you? Do you usually run while on vacation? Do you have any tips or experiences to share? 

We would love to hear about your vacation runs. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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