Vacation Running

One of my favorite things to do on vacation, no matter where I travel, is to explore by foot, aka, explore by running.  Whether traveling close to home in the Pacific NW, or further away in a foreign country, venturing by foot can provide a variety of sensorial input you'll remember forever.  The cobblestone streets in DC, the humidity and sun in the Dominican, and the Olympic Park in Munich are just a few fond memories I recall when thinking about running while on vacation. 

Within the nine weeks of Whisper Summer Training, most every runner is bound to miss a week or two for a family trip or summer camp.  There are many ways you can interpret these absences when it comes to gaining or losing fitness.  First, you could say the absence is fate and you need the time off from running for mental or physical healing - literally, no worries, the world still spins!  Second, you could aim for minimal running, maybe just a couple of runs while you are away - nothing too structured, just an easy 1-3 runs for 15-30 minutes.  Finally, you could have some fun with the planning of your runs by scoping out trails or routes in the area, contacting local coaches and inquiring about local running trails - if they reply, great, if they don't, then create your own trail.  The App Map My Run offers running routes which you can follow for simplicity. 

Whatever you choose, from the total vacation from running, to ensuring you will run, be sure to follow through with your intentions.  For those taking the hiatus from running, I applaud your strength!  For those planning to run, here are a couple of factors to ponder:

  • Safety - whether wild animals, or unsafe environments, be aware of your surroundings!  No headphones.
  • Partner up - take mom or dad with you on your run (they'll thank you later).
  • Don't take vacation training/running too serious.

For those seeking suggestions for training runs or wanting a structured plan, here is my usual advice: The main thing is to do just enough to continue building your endurance base, while not doing too much, nor losing your speed from track.  In short, you'll want to balance the distance with some tempos, Fartlek training, or speed.  The difference between tempos and Fartleks is that Fartleks lead to tempos.  Short leads to long.  Short intervals (Fartleks), that is, leads to longer intervals (tempos).  They are similar in that you'll warm-up for 10-15 minutes and cool-down for about 5-10 minutes, and what you do in the middle is the workout, but Fartleks are typically a couple of consecutive minutes of hard work (then an easy/medium recovery interval), whereas tempos are longer (5-15 minutes for most middle/high schoolers), with easy/medium recovery intervals in between.  Here is one example:

  • 15-minute warm-up, then 4, 3, 6, 3, 4, then 10-15 minutes of a cool-down.  The tempo/Fartlek work (hard work) was the 4 6 4, and the 3's were easy to medium.  For example, the 4-, 6-, and 4-minutes hard were at 3200m goal pace(ish), and the 3-minutes easy were just that - easy, but still jogging/running forward. 

If you're in shape, then it will be easy to distinguish the different paces.  If you are out of shape, then the intervals/Fartleks will likely merge into one pace, or at least feel like it.  The nice thing about this sort of workout is it is based off time, so you will know when it's over and you're not counting miles.  I like this sort of running when I'm less concerned with miles.  Also, you can run as few or as many hard intervals as you wish (1-5), for as long as you wish (1-5 minutes). 

How often you run while on vacation is another consideration.  For simplicity, definitely keep the running, both the number of days per week and the distance/time you run each workout, less than what you would do at home (at regular practices).  If you are training 5-6 day's per week, then plan for 3-4 runs while on vacation.  For example, if you're going to be gone Saturday to Saturday, plan for three runs  - Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - meanwhile designing a creative Fartlek/tempo workout for yourself.  

I want to remind vacationers that you're on vacation.  Enjoy it.  Stay away from track surfaces if you can and get lost on the local trails/roads - not "lost" literally, but a way of "vacationing from your vacation" - this provides a sense of normalcy and balance.  Again, you're on your vacation, so enjoy!  We can work when you return.