Marathon training while traveling isn’t easy, especially when you’re in an entirely different time zone and your body is craving extra sleep and a normal schedule. I went to Ireland for about 10 days this past August when I was in the heart of my training cycle and I made it work.
I was not perfect and definitely made adjustments as the days went, but I did what I could. It is possible to still get the work in while enjoying your vacation, so I thought I’d share some tips that worked for me with all of you.
I truly think you can make it work, enjoy your vacation, and still hit your goal time at your race!
- Get a key workout in before you leave
If you are able to switch around your schedule to get in a key workout BEFORE you leave, you should. I was flying out on a Friday afternoon, so I moved my Saturday long run to Friday morning so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting in 17 miles as soon as I got to Ireland. I obviously wanted to go straight to a pub for a Guinness (and I did – photo below). To make this work I had to start my long run at 4:45 AM since I was still working a half day before my flight. I don’t like getting up this early, but I knew it would be worth it. I had good friends to meet and a sunrise to see. These two things made the early alarm clock worth it. I got my 17 miles in and felt much more at ease about getting on the plane that afternoon. If you have the chance to be flexible and get it done before you leave, I highly recommend it.
I knew I would still have to complete one long run on my trip even with moving one up before I left. I could have done this regardless, but I decided to find a race because that would make it more fun. And it just so happened when Kyle had the idea to go on this trip that he knew I’d want to run Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin. I wouldn’t pass up my first chance to run an international race. So, I signed up for the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. I was at ease about getting my running in from the start of the trip because I knew I had these two races planned. Even if I hadn’t run on any other days during this vacation, I would have these 17 miles and that would keep me on track. Being signed up helped me relax about not necessarily running super high mileage. If you’re planning a major trip during your marathon training, search for local races and sign up. It will hold you accountable!
If you take away one piece of advice from this post, it should be this one. Learn how to adapt. Be willing to change around your schedule. Skip a run. Have a double workout day if you find one day with less of a hectic schedule. I think not putting pressure on yourself during training can be wonderful thing – always, but especially on vacation. You want to be enjoying yourself, so if you are jet lagged and don’t feel like doing your speed workout, then don’t. It’s okay. Swap a scheduled run for a 3 hour hike. Sleep in. Go to a museum and then run easy miles in the afternoon. Do whatever you feel like doing! Adapt your schedule and you’ll be happier!
I was lucky enough to have my favorite travel buddy with me on this trip. He’s not a long distance runner, but he’ll run with me for part of my runs. Last November he ran one mile with me over to the Eiffel Tower and then sat and read while I ran laps around for seven miles. I feel less guilty about squeezing in a run if he’s there enjoying the outdoors too, even if he isn’t running. And to be fair he did run 6 miles with me one night in Ireland because he was so obsessed with the area we were running in (and he’s more into running now). We couldn’t get enough and he agreed this was the most efficient way to see as much as we could that evening. Support is everything! If you’re on a solo trip or with people who think going to the park with you while you run laps sounds crazy, there are still things you can do. On Instagram? Ask if anyone in the area you’re traveling to would want to go for a run. This is a fun way to meet people IRL and you’ll be excited to run. Or you can meet up with a local running group. Look them up ahead of time and pick one or two to check out along your trip. If you add it to your schedule, you’ll be less likely to skip the run.
- Ask the locals for the best running spots
At most of the pubs I went to, I asked the bartenders or locals the best parks to check out. I didn’t necessarily say running spots, but they had great suggestions. I went to a few spots I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t asked. It’s a fun way to start up conversations with locals and get excited to lace up and explore.
- Take advantage of the jetlag
One great thing about traveling abroad is that you’ll naturally wake up earlier in the day once you’re there. I was used to waking up early, so even when I “slept in” on vacation I was naturally waking around 6 AM their time. I used that to my advantage a few mornings and took my energy outside to get my run in. I didn’t feel like I was losing out on sleep or “wasting” vacation time because I was up anyways and might as well have taken advantage of it. It helps!
- Use your run as an errand
This is a fun way to get in some miles and save some money. Have an errand you have to run? You can literally run it. Last fall Kyle and I wanted to go to a show in London, so we ran from our hotel to the box office first thing one morning. It was about 2 miles away. We ran there, picked up our tickets, ran home, and didn’t spend any money on transportation. It was an effortless way to log some miles while making great use of our time. If you can plan to run to pick something up, you should. Honestly, it’s economical. And don’t worry if your plan said 6 miles and you only run 4 because it worked out better that way. Like I said before, be as flexible as you can and you’ll have more fun.
If you aren’t able to find a running buddy, you should still feel empowered to run and explore, but be cautious. Research the areas you’re staying in and look for parks. This is a great reason to use the locals recommendations because they’ll most likely be populated areas. Don’t run in the dark. Map out your routes ahead of time and send them to a friend or family member. It’s so fun to explore new places and it’s okay to deviate from your route a little bit if you find a new fun space to run along the way, but I think it’s really important to let someone know you’re going out for a run and when you’re back home safe. It might seem a little silly, but doing this at least makes me feel more at ease.
I honestly believe the best way to see a new place is to explore on foot. Running in new cities or countries is genuinely fun for me. I can’t imagine vacations without it, so I didn’t really consider it “marathon training.” I ran for fun. I ran to see the sights. I ran to pick things up. I ran to spend time with Kyle. This didn’t feel like training. If you focus on the fun in running and less on the scheduled miles, I think you’ll find it easier to get them in. I didn’t have a successful speed workout on this trip and I was definitely a little under mileage, BUT I still got in most of my runs, enjoyed myself, and had great fall marathons. It’s possible. I love marathon training, but I always say I wouldn’t do it if I felt like it took control of my life and caused me to miss out on living. There’s a balance. I work hard and I have fun. I don’t stress about a few missed runs. And I don’t shy away from a trip that will make me get a little out of my comfort zone. You shouldn’t either! Live. Travel. Run. PR. Drink the beer. Order the pasta. Spend quality time with the people you love most. It helps you get a little more life out of your days.