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How to keep your training up on holidays

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Everyone loves holidays! With a bit of planning and creativity, a weekend away or a well-deserved break from work doesn’t have to interrupt your training plans. Here are some of the ways we have fit running into our holidays.

Look up running routes on Strava/Garmin Connect/other running apps – when we were in Spain, we were looking a few short runs we could do close to our hotels. We had a look at Strava to check if there were any segments near where we were staying to get an idea of where we could go (and possibly pick up a crown or two).

Search for local running clubs – we have had quite a bit of success with this method. Not long before we got to Jersey in the Channel Islands, Marty contacted the local running club to see if anyone would be going out for a Sunday run, and wouldn’t mind us tagging along. They didn’t have anything specific organised, but one of their members offered to meet up with us for a run. We met him on the Saturday at parkrun, and met up again on the Sunday for a 16km loop, then shouted him breakfast after run. It was a great run to do a loop we probably wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.

We did a similar thing a bit closer to home on a trip to Melbourne. Marty contacted the Melbourne Midday Milers to ask for details of their Sunday runs. We joined them for a 25km loop around the city, the only time I have ever run at the Tan! In our experience, people are happy to have a few extra runners along, and you can always return the favour if they visit your city.

Social media is a great option for getting in touch with people in the place you are visiting.

Our new running friend in Jersey
Meeting up with local runners is a great way to find out where to run (and have coffee)

Check if there is a parkrun – with more and more locations popping up in Australia and over the world, check if there is a parkrun at your holiday destination. It’s an easy way to get a run in with other people, and a great way to try a new run.

Ask for a lift – in my experience, runners are usually happy to help other runners! On a trip to Hobart with my running club a few years ago, we contacted Hobart parkrun through their Facebook page to see if anyone could help us get to the event. They were very helpful, and arranged for four cars to come to our hotel, pick us up and drop us back afterwards. It was great, and meant everyone got to run. We gave them some small gifts to say thank you.

Talk to the locals – when we were in Lake Macquarie last year, we did Lakeview parkrun. After the run, we asked someone for a recommendation on where we could go for our long run the next day. They told us about a place where a few groups meet, and we contacted one (Newcastle Flyers) to see if we could join them. They were more than happy for us to tag along, and it was much easier than trying to find a route in an area we didn’t know.

Ask your hotel – when we arrived in Berlin in 2016, the first thing our hotel gave us was a city running map. If you’re in a place that doesn’t have marathon fever, the staff at your hotel might still be able to recommend some good places to go. They will probably also be across which areas are safe to run.

Check local government websites – if you don’t have any luck with running groups or Strava segments, have a look at government, tourism or council websites. They often have good information on local parks, cycle paths and walkways where you can run. If all else fails, Google maps might also be able to show you any nearby parks, though this will probably also involve a bit of exploration to see what is there. We did this in Amsterdam last year, and found a couple of decent places to run.

Go the Nike store – in both Barcelona and Lison, we made a trip to a Nike store in the city centre. Both times, they were extremely helpful, giving us details on when they meet for runs, even working around a few small language barriers. In Barcelona, we had to sign up via their website, but Lisbon was just a case of turning up at the location. We didn’t end up making it to either run, Marty was sick in Barcelona and the times didn’t work for us in Lisbon. But it would have been a great way to meet some local runners.

Run in the morning – I am a fan of morning runs in general, but even more so when you are away from home. You are on holidays, you are having fun, you don’t want to be spending too much time thinking about getting your training in. If you can get it done in the morning, then you are free for the rest of the day.

Be flexible – as much as I like do what I said in the previous point and run in the morning, there might be times when that isn’t possible. You might have a tour booked with an early start, or have a late night time activity, and need to shift things around. It doesn’t matter if you can’t get the exact run in that you planned. It’s better to do something to maintain the habit, than do nothing.

Be aware of different conditions – I had a short holiday in Cairns a few years when I was training for a marathon. I planned to do parkrun as part of my long run, with some running before and a bit more after. It was darker than I expected in the morning, and I left a bit late, meaning I had more running to do after parkrun. It was crazy hot and I really stuggled, then felt lethargic for the rest of the trip. In hindsight, I should have split the run and done half on Saturday and half on Sunday to avoid the heat. In situations like these, the most important thing is maintaining consistency. If you need to take it a bit slower or make it a bit shorter to get your runs done and keep it habitual, it’s worth it.

When we were in Spain in 2016, one thing we weren’t prepared for was the last sunrises. It was still dark close to 8am, and by that time it was getting warm and we were starting to think about breakfast. When we finally got used to it, we managed to get out one day before the sun came up, and were treated to a great sunrise (which is also my header photo on this site).

Go for a sightseeing run – combine your holiday with a bit of running! See if there are any places you can run that go past places you want to visit on your trip. When we arrived in Berlin, we did a sightseeing run along the river, that finished at the Brandenburg gate. It might mean taking photos in your running clothes, but that makes for a good story.

When in Rome – Copy what the locals do. I had a bit of a break from running when I was travelling in Latin America. But I had my shoes with me, and there were a few times I felt like going, mostly because I saw lots of people running and had FOMO. In Rio, it was along Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and in Panama City, next to the water on the malecon. One of the easiest ways to get a run in on holidays is to look out for where other people are running, and join them.

For a summary of how I put this into practice and kept up my training during a recent holiday, click here.

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