Whether you are traveling for work or fortunate enough to be on vacation, being away from home can put a damper on your training. Being in a strange room in a strange city can throw off even the most committed runners. For someone used to training on a consistent schedule and relying on a predefined set of tools, travel can make training difficult, especially if you are like me and hate the treadmill. After completing a couple of trips recently, I thought I would put together a couple of do’s and don’ts for the runner on the road.
Running on Vacation
This is probably the easier trip to plan for. First of all, hopefully your vacation plans are taking you somewhere scenic and temperate, the kind of place where you want to go for a run. That was my experience recently on a trip to Hawaii. Who wouldn’t want to run along the beach at sunrise in K’anapali? I simply packed a couple sets of running clothes, my sun glasses, and my Garmin watch. In this case I chose to leave the headphones behind because I wanted to be able to hear the wind and the surf and the birds. I also left behind any other gear that I normally have for longer runs, because my training didn’t call for anything over 5 miles.
I didn’t do any advanced research on places to run because I assumed that it would be obvious. Our first morning in the hotel we walked down to the beach and saw numerous runners and walkers making their way up and down the K’anapali Beach Path. From there I logged on to the route creator at Map My Run to see just how far a run up and down the beach path would take me. I plotted out a course that would get me the mileage I needed and would have me finishing up at the entrance to Duke’s Beach House for fresh papaya-orange juice and some breakfast. Getting in a run or two during vacation, especially a vacation like this, is pretty straightforward, much different from the experience when traveling for work.
Running on a Work Trip
This first thing about a work trip that can derail a running program is the destination. Most of my travel these days takes me to convention centers, usually located in the downtown area of major cities. This adds the complication of traffic and pedestrians to the difficulty of being in an unfamiliar environment.
Let’s take my recent stay in Toronto as an example. I was there for 5 days, from Thursday through Monday. I arrived on Thursday morning after a sleepless redeye flight from Los Angeles. Friday through Sunday was booked on the trade show floor, and since I was going to be on my feet all day, running became less attractive on those days. Finally, my flight out of town had me arriving at the airport again before noon on Monday, so the schedule was clearly a little tight. Based on that, I resolved to put in a short run Thursday afternoon and a longer run early on Monday morning.
For a short run in an unfamiliar city, no matter how much you may not like it, a treadmill is probably your best bet. While I have my reasons for not loving the treadmill, which I will detail in a later blog post, for convenience, it does serve a purpose. After breakfast and a nap on Thursday morning, I headed down to the gym for an early afternoon run before my business meetings that evening. The convenience factor is certainly a plus here. The hotel even had fancy treadmills with large monitors that could display either your vital statistics or an even more vital episode of mid-day television programming. I chose to put on my headphones and listen to my running mix. A few miles later I was ready to head back to my room and get to work.
My monday morning run in Toronto required a little more research. I did a quick google search for “downtown toronto running routes” to see if I could fins a few recommendations. I also perused google maps to get a feel for how far most of the paths were from my hotel. After I settled on a path, I plugged it into Map My Run again and charted out a nice 6.5 mile course through the waterfront. Considering my schedule, I was up and out of the hotel early, around day-break, and found the city to be relatively quiet for a Monday morning. It took me about a mile to get to the waterfront, but once I was there, the sunrise was beautiful and the path was populated by only a few fellow runners. I headed down the waterfront until my Garmin watch let me know that I had hit the 3.3 mile mark, my signal to turn around and head back.
The return trip was a little more difficult. By the time I had gotten back to the city, pedestrians had started to file out of the subway and onto the crowded streets. Along with them came vastly more cars and construction crews who happily shut down roads and sidewalks creating even more congestion. The final mile back the hotel was less enjoyable, but more importantly it was a little more dangerous. Monday morning commuters in Toronto did not seem to appreciate my running and in turn, I really didn’t like their driving all that much. That was another good lesson from this trip as well. Don’t worry about your time or your pace when you are running in the city, because being the first one off the curb when the light turns green may not always be the safest choice. One close call for me instilled plenty of patience for the rest of my run.
1. Plan ahead. No matter where or when you are running, its always good to know where you are going when you walk out the hotel door.
2. Plan even further ahead. If you plan on running on your next trip, take as much of your gear as you can pack. You will feel more prepared if you have all of your normal running gear.
3. Be careful. You don’t have to set a new land speed record with every run. When you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, patience can make for a slower but safer pace.
4. No matter how much you don’t like the treadmill, there is a time and a place for it, and sometimes, the best place to use the treadmill is in a hotel gym.