When I entered the lottery for the 2013 NYC marathon, I never once thought about how much time I would spend training.
Instead, I thought about how amazing it was going to be when I crossed the finish line and I thought about what I would eat and drink on the course.
I thought about how awesome the fans were going to be and how I’d write my name on my shirt so they could cheer me on by name.
I even thought about what I would wear and what hotel we would stay in.
But I never thought about how challenging it would be to find time to fit in multiple 10, 11, 17 and 20 mile training runs in the months leading up to race day.
I started the NYRR training plan in August and quickly realized that a few important training weeks, as well as a few of my long runs, would fall on days when I was on vacation or when I was traveling.
I am not a natural runner, nor do I run fast, so I knew that every single training session on my road to 26.2 would be super important.
I have one more month of training to go before my marathon and I’m happy to report that I have successfully gotten in all of my runs and stuck to my training plan despite being out of town 4 times and also training for a triathlon.
Here are a few tips that have worked really well for me and I hope they will help set you up for success as you train for your next race.
- Get a Garmin – I don’t own a Garmin, but my husband does, and since we usually run together, it’s kinda like I have one too.
On a recent trip to Kentucky, the Garmin was so helpful for not only tracking our mileage, but for finding places to run. We had a 10 miler on tap and we mapped it out the night before over at garminconnect.com and we saved our route to the watch, and the next day, we headed out and had an awesome run!
Thanks to the amazing features on garminconnect.com, you can search popular routes and pick one to run. These courses are usually created by local runners which means that you’ll probably be running in a really cool park or on a great route around town.
- Tour the town – And speaking of running around town, training while on vacation or while traveling is an awesome way to see a new place.
Sometimes we go for a run just to scope out a restaurant that we want to try and other times, we’ll just run to try and get a feel for the city or town that we’re visiting. Either way, going on a run in a new city is a great way to explore!
- Ask about routes when checking into your hotel – When we checked into our hotel in San Diego on a recent trip, we asked if there were any cool places to run.
The lady behind the desk handed us this super cool map that was in the shape of a sneaker and it had a few different running routes on it.
We were pleasantly surprised that a hotel had something like this to give out and it saved us a lot of time too! It never hurts to ask!
- Map My Run – Similarly to a Garmin, Map My Run is an awesome iPhone app that tracks your runs. Best of all, it’s free! It also lists a ton of routes that other runners have done and is super useful when you’re trying to find a place to run in a new city and don’t have a Garmin.
- Google – When in doubt, Google it. I found an awesome park to run in by googling: places to run in Lexington. Not only did I find a great park, but a few local running club websites popped up.
Finding a running club and joining them on one of their runs is a great way to get your training in as well as meet some new friends and get the low down on a new city or town. Our running club here in Nashville is free and anyone at any level can join in on the run.
- Run a race – Another thing that I noticed when I googled “places to run” was that there were a few 5k races going on that weekend. This option may take a little more planning, but if you can find a race in the town or city that you’re visiting, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Not only will you get your run in, but you’ll also have a blast. And since most races are early in the morning, you’ll still have the rest of the day to explore and relax.
When we were in Atlanta, we signed up for the Color Me Rad 5k and not only did we get in our run, but we had a blast!
This is also a great way to test out your race day strategy. Test out your outfit and make sure it doesn’t chafe, practice your mental toughness and perfect your nutrition.
- Pack your nutrition – And speaking of nutrition, make sure you plan for your run and pack your favorite gu, gels, bars and sports drinks. My favorite gel is called Huma Gel and if you haven’t tried it yet, you are missing out. It’s AWESOME.
Anyway, Huma Gel is a local company here in Nashville and I’ve had trouble finding it when I travel, so now I make sure I bring a stash along with me.
Another thing to think about is your pre-run breakfast. I always have a piece of whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and banana on top. My husband prefers oatmeal. Well, we forgot to pack our breakfast and the night before our run, we were running around trying to find a food store that was open.
Nothing was open but thankfully we found a gas station that sold single serving oatmeal cups. They were so expensive, but we really had no other option. The moral of the story is make sure you pack something for breakfast, or make sure you stop at the grocery store earlier in the day when it’s open.
Also, Starbucks is always a good option. They’re open early, they’re everywhere and they have some great pre-run breakfast options and strong coffee!
- Safety first – Since you’re running in an unfamiliar place, make sure you remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t run alone, but if you have to, then make sure you tell someone your route and how long you think you’ll be gone.
Garmin has an awesome app called Garmin tracker so your friends and family can check up on you and stay updated on your progress.
If possible, don’t use headphones, wear bright clothes and make sure you take plenty of water with you. Take your phone along in case of an emergency or to refer to your map in case you get lost.
Most of all, have fun! Trying to fit in your long training run while traveling or on vacation doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be a great way to explore a new place and who knows, you may even stumble upon an awesome hole in the wall restaurant that serves killer margaritas, or a cute ice cream shop that just so happens to have your favorite flavor… it is vacation after all!