Going on Spring Break? How to Get Your Miles In
Springtime is prime training season for a lot of runners. We are coming off the cold winter weather and racing before the heat and humidity of summer kicks in. If you are lucky enough to be able to get out of town for spring break, one of the planning factors in your trip is probably when and how to get your runs in.
The unknown of a vacation destination can cause a little stress, and the internet can only tell you so much. You may assume a large road has a sidewalk that you can run on or that a road is not as high traffic as it actually is. A little bit of pre-planning, research, flexibility and back up planning will always come in handy. Still, the question is how do you ensure that you are able to get your runs in while on spring break?
Plan in Advance
Planning in advance may seem obvious– pack all your running gear and look up routes for your vacation destination. But those are not the only thing you need to do before you leave. The best way to ensure full compliance with your training plan and your vacation is to front and back load your mileage in the week surrounding your vacation so that what you absolutely need to run on vacation are reasonable distances and only use a reasonable amount of time.
Most seasoned runners are comfortable enough to toy with their schedule and do so smartly. Doing this should help take pressure off running on your travel days if running the day of travel is not possible. It can also help free up a day of rest during vacation. While runners often don’t go on “vacation,” meaning a break from running, taking a 5% mileage break or placing rest days next to each other can be good for a bit of a refresh.
The day you are back from vacation, however, you should jump immediately back in your training plan, and even consider adding a short run on a day you usually rest.
The type of vacation you have will determine what changes you need to make to your runs. If you are at the beach and will be cracking into a cold adult beverage at 10am, running later in the day is probably not possible, even if that’s your normal routine. Going for a run mildly buzzed is a recipe for seeing lunch again.
Motivate yourself to get up a little early and log those miles first thing in the morning. It’ll make the beer taste better anyways. Lay out your clothes or ask someone to help get you out the door if you think you might need the extra motivation.
Skiing or snowboarding for your holiday? Finding a treadmill to log some flat miles will help make sure your legs aren’t overexerted for your skiing especially if you want to run in the morning. Set yourself up for scenarios that leave the opportunity for you to go run easy. The runner’s guilt of “skipping” will also help nudge you out the door.
Psych Yourself Up
Motivation is typically not what runners struggle with, at least compared to the non-running population. Yet, sometimes, when the rest of our life is on vacation we want our running to be as well. One way to stay motivated and keeps you running is to go into the trip with a set goal.
If it’s time for a mini-running break, take it. Reduce miles, don’t do speed, take an extra rest day, whatever a break means to you. If you really do need to train to accomplish your goals, remind yourself of that.
If possible, try to avoid all your personal pitfalls that will negatively affect your motivation. Not fond of running outside in the type weather your destination will provide? Mentally prepare for a treadmill run so that you can stave off any excuses. There are a lot of 24 hour gyms across the country that will allow you to pay by visit if you show an out of state license. Got a long run and really need to be occupied? Download a podcast, album or book, something you wouldn’t normally treat yourself to in order to appeal to your reward center.
Give Yourself Some Flexibility
Vacation is not your regular routine. You might be more “relaxed” than usual but a lot of things are different including your diet, your sleep patterns and what you spend your days doing. Laying around all day on the beach in the sun, skiing , walking around Disney World or some other large city or tourist attraction is going to take a little bit out of you. Your runs may feel the effects of the previous day’s activities. That is ok. You are on vacation. Give yourself some leeway and if you have a bad run, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s a rare occurrence to have amazing runs on vacation.
That being said, your scenery could be stellar so enjoy that and don’t focus only on pace or duration. If you are able, and your training plans allows for it, have the goals of your vacation runs differ from those goals you have at home. The mental vacation could really help with motivation when you get back to the daily grind.
Running on vacation makes you feel a little bit like a rock star and it should. Not everyone takes a piece out of their vacation day to be productive. That doesn’t mean that on vacation you need to be the lean-mean training machine you normally are. Target your runs around what you need out of your vacation and out of your vacation runs. It’ll help your overall training physically and mentally.