Running while on vacation can be challenging. Whether it is a destination vacation, a trip to visit with family, or some combination, it is not always easy to maintain one’s regular running routine or training program.
Since Thursday this past week, my wife and I have been on vacation in the central Florida area visiting family. Unfortunately, finding time to run (and write) has been difficult.
At least for me, this adds stress to what is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing time. The guilt of missing a run is not something easily controlled or dismissed.
In some cases, there is guilt pulling in multiple directions. On one side, there is the guilt from not running. The thoughts and questions spin through my head. What will this do to my fitness? Will I still be prepared for that upcoming race? How do I get back on track or make up for this later?
On the other side, when I do manage to run on vacation, I feel guilty for missing time with family or spending time doing something I could be doing at home. I don’t see some family members that often. I don’t come to this location very often. Am I missing out on something while running? Think of all the other things I could be doing.
This last train of thought ultimately leads me to a final circular and futile feeling — I feel guilty for feeling guilty. Am I so dedicated to running that the stress of missing or sacrificing a day causes this much angst? Running is supposed to reduce stress, so why am I feeling so stressed about running?
Fortunately, with a little planning and dedication, it is possible to make some schedule and mental adjustments and not let your running plan suffer while on vacation. Or at least, you can reduce that guilt so you can enjoy yourself the remaining hours of the day.
Below are a few tips (which may be obvious but aren’t always easy) that helped me this past week:
1. Run early in the morning
One morning these past few days, my wife and I got up semi-early and ran ten miles, while everyone was still busy with other morning activities. Getting up early and squeezing in a run, even if it is just a few miles is a great way to allow time for a run while not sacrificing time with others.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. Getting up early can be difficult while on vacation. I said “semi-early” above because my wife and I still didn’t get up as early as we planned. The allure of sleeping late, especially after a busy day before, is powerful. But I’ve found getting up early and running is one of those things that even though you don’t want to do it, it feels better once its done. Try and use that feeling of being done for motivation to get up early and get in those extra miles.
2. Make running its own vacation activity
Also this past week, the family all went out for an after dinner walk on a nearby trail. My wife’s aunt was also interested in riding her bike. So while the rest of the family walked, I ran a quick six miles while my aunt rode next to me on her bike.
One benefit of this is that you can use this time for the whole family to explore new areas, get outdoors, and enjoy nature. If you plan activities like this with the family or plan them on the vacation itinerary, you won’t feel as guilty taking time out of your vacation to run since it will be part of the vacation itself.
Again, this won’t always be possible or easy. But the extra benefit here is that it is good for the entire family since everyone gets in a little exercise.
3. Be prepared to run at any time
The after dinner walk, bike ride, and run I mentioned above wasn’t planned that far ahead. But since I had my running clothes and shoes with me, I was able to turn this time into a run. You never know when you will have a few moments to run, so it never hurts to be prepared. A few short miles here and there, whenever there is time, can add up.
4. It’s okay to NOT run
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it is okay to miss a few runs. This is probably the hardest part for me. Even though I managed to squeeze in a few runs these past few days, I was not able to get in as many miles as my normal routine. But this is okay.
Running is important, I won’t argue with you there. It’s healthy, it can be a great stress reliever, and it is a great way to experience nature. But it is not the most important thing and we should be careful to not take running too seriously. Taking running too seriously is what causes us to feel guilty about having to miss a day or two. Most of the time, our fitness or training won’t suffer or be set back as much as we think. Putting running in perspective can help reduce the stress and guilt for when we need to adjust our schedules.
I hope these few tips about running while on vacation are helpful. I know that they have been for me. These points may seem obvious, but sometimes it helps just to be reminded of them. In this case, I know it has helped me to simply write them down.
As always, comments are appreciated. Let me know of any thoughts or questions below. Thanks for reading.