Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 Ways To Shut Up and Run on Vacation

Up until a few years ago I thought running or working out on vacation was stupid. A vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing and a break from all of the crap you do every other day of the week – so why ruin it by exerting yourself?  Then I grew up realized some things:

  • If you run on vacation, you can eat and drink more


  • If you run on vacation, you get to see and smell more (in the case of San Francisco, this included smelling everything from urine to puke to the fresh sea air)
  • If you run on vacation, you can actually kind of keep up with your training and not feel like a loser
  • If you run on vacation, you can feel like a stud compared to all those other people who are sleeping in (and they, in turn, can view you as an over-achieving crazy person, but who cares?)
  • If you run on vacation, you may be less likely to kill your family

However, it’s not always easy.

  • You have to schlep all your workout gear to your destination.  Wah, wah wah.
  • You have to get up early (because we all know once the day starts and you are either sight seeing or drinking at lunch or laying on the beach or all of the above, your ass is definitely not going to take an evening run)
  • You have to figure out where the hell you are going so you don’t get lost or mugged

I have become the queen of training while traveling. I am not bragging, I am just telling you. So, here are some tried and true ways to stop your whining and excuses and run on vacation:

1. Don’t Worry About Smelling. If you are like me, no matter where you go or for how long, you will NOT pay a baggage fee (unless it is Southwest where bags fly free). This means very limited space for clothes, Depends, shoes, tampons and curling irons.

My solution is to bring only one or two pieces of workout stuff. This means that unless you have access to laundry or can rinse stuff out, you will smell a lot by the end of your trip. I wore the same socks for 7 days on this past vacation and I don’t have a fungus (that I know of).

Don't complicate things. Running was meant to be simple. Throw some stuff in your bag and make it happen.

You are lucky this is not a scratch ‘n sniff picture (they are actually stiff):


2. Plan a Route You Can Get a Boner About. Confucius say: “If you excited about run, you will go on run.”

One of the best things about running when you travel is it’s a new way to explore. Run the hills in San Francisco. Go up and down the Strip in Vegas. Hit the trails outside of Boulder. The absolute three best ways to find your routes are to 1) use Map My Run (here you can search by the distance you want to run and see where some of the most popular routes are) 2) ask your blog friends 3) ask the locals. When I travel I talk to everyone and ask if they run because then they can tell me where to go. The cashier at Trader Joes in Monterey set me up for this amazing run to Pebble Beach.

Just remember to always bring a phone, some money and your hotel key.


3. Get Creative and Be Flexible, Dammit. This is probably the best piece of advice I have. Running and training while traveling will be different and you have to improvise on your routes and sometimes the quality of your workouts. 

While in Vegas, there wasn’t a lap pool at the Palazzo (there were only fancy, weird shaped, little pools). I got there right when it opened, put on my goggles and cap and made the best of it. This did mean looking like a freak and swimming around all kinds of tourists, drunkards and screaming children, but I made it happen.


4. Include People If You Must. If you don’t want to always be abandoning family and friends to work out, bring them with you. You might not keep the same paces or go the same distance, but it becomes an inclusive activity.

Our family rented bikes in San Francisco and did a fabulous 16 mile ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. It was actually pretty challenging with the wind and hills and we all thought it was one of the highlights of the trip.


5. For God’s Sake, Don’t Over Think It. It’s so easy to sabotage yourself. Just make it happen and don’t let your brain talk you out of it. Plan your route, set your alarm, lay out your clothes and don’t puss out.

What’s your best tip for running while on vacation?

Do you make it a personal rule to always run while traveling?

What’s the best run you’ve ever had away from home? (not including a race) The 15 mile run from Monterey and Pebble Beach and back was amazing.



  1. The bike ride across the Golden Gate into Sausalito sounds AMAZING!!
    I knew I was a runner when the first thing I did when I arrived in Boston on my last trip was plan a run parallel to the harbor. Talk about fantastic!!
    I don't make it a rule...but it makes me feel better...and most of the time, my kids don't want to go so I actually get some time by myself. Win-Win.
    It is incredibly important like you said to make sure to scope it all out and make sure you're safe!

  2. I used to think people who exercised on vacation were psycho, too, until I started running. Now whenever we go to the beach, I set the alarm for really early (still dark out) and go for a run on the beach as the sun rises. It's one of the highlights of my vacation every time!

  3. I once ran the Gettysburg battlefield at first light. It was an amazing 10 miler.

  4. I bet Pebble beach would be a great place to run! I love a nice run on the beach, so much that it's one of the reasons I look forward to going to the beach so much!

  5. Do you always wear a race belt to carry your phone? Or one of those arm strap things?

    1. I wear a fuel belt for gels, phone, water, money. But if I run shorter than an hour I don't always bring it. Mine is a Nathan belt and holds 2-10 oz bottles.

  6. Glad you went human-powered over GG Bridge-- there is something special about running/biking that span! I loved doing long runs across the bridge to Tiburon when we lived there!

  7. Tell someone; if your kid knows that you were supposed to do a run, explaining that you were too tired is going to be embarrassing

  8. Sounds like a blast! I ended up running almost every day of our vacation back in June and LOVED being on the beach before everyone else.

  9. I love to run on vacation! At least with running, you don't have to bring a lot of, socks, and running clothes. Pretty low maintenance sport, if you ask me!

    I do wear a spi-belt to carry my phone.

  10. Vacation running is the best way to discover a town. It's top two of my favorite things to do on vacay, right behind drinking lots of booze.

  11. There was a nice run in Venice along the Grand Canal. But the best runs were in Bermuda. Barefoot on the beach was awesome, but just around the island was very nice to discover where some of the roads went.

    Best running tip? Plan for the others to do something you don't want to do, and go for a run instead. Secretly, they're probably just as happy to be away from you, as you are to be away from them.

  12. Thank you for ending my day with a good chuckle!

  13. Thank you for ending my day with a good chuckle!

  14. I used to be so psycho about getting all my workouts in on vacation that I would bring my bike (yes, even on planes). I'd always scope out Olympic pools, too. Once I had kids and got a dose of reality, I stick to running on vacations and only bring the bike if I'm in driving distance. That said, running on vacations is really one of my very favorite things to do...I've had some amazing runs this way.

  15. I always run when traveling on vacation or business, biking is usually a lot more of a challenge and swimming is hit or miss - I've had that same Palazzo experience btw only even more embarrassing because we are there every year for a big work conference so my colleagues get to think I am truly nuts!

    Best vacation run ever = Torrey Pines state park with my daughter who was 17 at the time - we parked on the beach road below, ran into the park, up the hill and around all of the trails to see spectacular views - what an amazing place, wish I lived there!!!

  16. I'll be doing a few short east coast trips over the summer and a week long Colorado trip in September. I'm looking forward to running on all of them. Well, not exactly looking forward to the altitude adjustment in September, but I'll live...I hope.

    Thanks for the tips. And I like Keith's tip about scheduling runs during things your family wants to do that you aren't interested in. Sometimes that rule would free my entire trip, haha.

  17. I ALWAYS run on vacation! There is no better way to star my day when I am away from home than to do the one thing that always grounds me.

    My tip - plan the basic route, and bring a map with you in case you get lost, but don't be afraid to get a little lost and a little turned around. That is how you will discover some of the most fantastic spots on your vacation runs.

    Best run - Bordeaux, 2012. Told Hubby I was going out for a route that I had mapped that I figured would be about 6k. 10k later, just as he was starting to worry, I came home. Got completely turned around (streets in Bordeaux are not nice squares like in North America - they are more like spokes on a bike tire), and ended up finding the BEST farmer's market I have ever seen - le Marché des Capucins. Since Hubby and I enjoy spending time at local markets, it was a great find - we went back there for lunch and to load up on local French fruits, veggies, and of course, cheeses - all of which I consumed guilt free since I had been running! Not sure we woud have found this market any other way!

  18. Best run-through hazelnut orchards outside of Rome.

    People need "tips" to run on vacation? Who knew.

  19. I always workout on vacation, but its not always a run. I have been known to pack dumbbells in my kids luggage and a workout DVD. My husband and I take turns on who gets to get up at 5 to go while the little people sleep. We joke its our biggest argument! "No way you got to get up at 5 am yesterday! It's my turn!" Friends think we are freaks to get up so early on vacation.

  20. That bike ride sounds awesome! Helpful tips on travelling too!

  21. I had EVERY INTENTION of running when I went on a 2-week vacation to Italy. I was so excited about running around the Circus Maximus, etc... and then I did not run a single step while we were there. One thing I did not take into account was how tired and sore my legs were going to be from all of the walking we did. I just didn't feel like running after walking for 10+ miles a day (plus hours of standing). Now I kind of regret that I didn't suck it up.

    BUT until then I had done pretty well with squeezing in at least one run while on vacation. Usually it ends up being on the hotel treadmill but hey, something is better than nothing, right?

  22. I also always run on vacation. It is nice to run new routes as I think it makes the miles go by faster and it helps get the lay of the land if you are going to be in a particular spot for awhile (check out places to go, eat etc.). Just got back from Hawaii and ran at 5:30 am everyday. So nice to be out when not many people are up yet.

  23. I love this! One of the first things I often do when planning a vacation is 1) make sure I pick a hotel with a decent Fitness Room (aka treadmills!) and next would be 2) start googling for any run events that happen to be scheduled for that same place and time as I will be there. I have run some very unique events while on vacation, and earned some great bragging rights!

  24. I've had 2 memorable vacation runs. An 8 mile run on the beach on Isle of Palm SC and a 10 mile run on the NCR Trail in Baltimore County. Its an old railroad trail in the woods. really beautiful.

    I like destination races, its like a vacation and running in one! and i'd like to look into some running vacations. hiring someone to take me running in different cities or countries.

  25. Lately all our vacations have been for either a running or cycling event. Pick one far enough away and oh darn we have to spend the night.

    I did go out and run in Tahoe when I went with my friends. I only went out for 1/2 an hour but it felt great!

  26. I always choose a very simple route when I run on holidays. The less number of turns the better - too many turns and I will get lost.

  27. Love running while on vacation or business trips (there are great parks with trails in IL and your runs in Monterey are similar to ones I did last year while there on business). Other thing to take with you, especially in the heat - water. I once went on what I thought was a 6 mile loop. Turns out it was a 6 mile J - which meant I did a 12 miler with no water in July! Last time I went some where new without my trusty water belt.

  28. I'm visiting Ireland as I type, and I've run about 35 miles since I got here a week ago and I took one yoga class. I also included a race in another town in my itinerary. I've seen all sorts of cool stuff running on this trip. I'm going slower (except for the race) and taking stops for touring, and I'm finding it to be a unique, fabulous way to see the sights.

  29. I love running when we go away, it's definitely the best way to explore. Unfortunately, I'm not really a get up early sort of person so one day of the trip I'll arrange to go for a trail run somewhere while the others do something else. My favourite so far has to around Grizedale forest in the Lake District in England

  30. "You might not keep the same paces or go the same distance, but it becomes an inclusive activity."

    I learned this on our multigenerational vacation this summer. My cousin wanted to run with me -- and tanked my monthly pace. LOL The next day her dad ran with me and kept up. It was deeply amusing.

    And yes, I sure as heck woke up early -- and was drinking by 10AM. ;) LOL

  31. My husband and I went to San Fran on our honeymoon and we did the same bike rental you did. Definitely one of the coolest things I've done and it was a total challenge with all the hills! So much in fact, I bit the dust and fell off my bike!!! We have a picture too. :)

  32. Great tips! I love being active on a vacation.

    Also, that beverage in your first photo looks pretty awesome!

  33. Dude. I saw you at grimaldies but I was too lame to say hi. So hi. I was overwhelmed because coach weenie warrior from survivor was behind us and then you walked in and it was like Hollywood in a strip mall pizzeria. So i just ate my feelings instead.
    I always run on vacation. I piss and moan to myself but I get up early and do the damn thing. I've done it long enough that I can channel the beast like feeling I have the rest of the day when I Get it done. I do try to scedule a rest day in there some where though to make the family happy. But it's non negotiable for me and the hubs knows it.
    Btw in person you kick as much ass as you do virtually. Next time I'll grow a pair.

  34. I always run on vacation or I get grumpy, and no one wants to be grumpy on vacation. Also, no one wants to be around me if I'm grumpy on vacation. The best vacation run I've had was on my honeymoon in Hawaii. I'd never run on the beach before, and although I thought running in sand was going to kill me, it was gorgeous.

    My friend and I rented bikes in SF, too. Neither of us are at all cyclists and we rode 40-something miles. I was so saddle-sore the next day that I thought I'd never sit down again, but it was beautiful -- totally worth it!

  35. This is AWESOME - thank you! I felt crazy bringing all my running stuff to Berlin, but I did it. I met a Swedish student who had to adopt a gluten-free diet, saw way more of the city than I could cover just walking, and ran off a piece of cheesecake as big as my head and two hangovers. It also was a neat way to people-watch with the guise of being a runner.
    Glad to know it's not just me, and thank you again for reconfirming my sanity.

  36. Best way to see the place you are visiting is to run. Love it

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