It has been a while since I have blogged. And that is not due to a lack of things to write about. In fact, quite the contrary. It has been a busy summer on a running, career and also a personal level.
Quick over view of what I have done since the Ottawa marathon in May: I backed off the concentration of mileage over the summer to concentrate on some speed. I ran a track race for the first time in SEVEN YEARS!!! It was just an all comers meet in Hamilton with unfortunately only two other women entered in the 3000m. But I hit my goal (*by 1s) and was satisfied with the effort. I also ran a 5k that I have run for the past 3 years now 16s faster than I ever have. Not as fast as I wanted it to be but again still happy to see the increase in speed. While I was concentrating on the speed I continued to do relatively high mileage throughout in order to still have enough of a base to potentially run a late fall marathon.
As I am writing right now I am currently on the Eurostar between Paris and Bourdeaux, France. This brings me to my main topic for this post—running on vacation. I have now been gone for 12 days and still have another 7 to go. I realize this post likely comes late for most vacationers as the summer season has past but I thought I would post it while it was fresh in my mind. Yesterday was the first day I took off running since being on vacation. Here are some ideas and tips of how I incorporate running in to my vacations.
Before heading on vacation be sure to consult your coach or current training plan in order to make adjustments where needed. The other thing is to allow yourself to be flexible knowing that you may have to switch things around based on travel plans. I think It is also important to decide what you are going to aim for while away. For example, my coach and I decided we would try to get 2 long runs, 1 medium long run and 2 quality sessions in for this trip and aim for 110k/wk. First week has past and I ran 124k and plan to take it a bit easier in this second week knowing that we walked a lot and I will be in to full force training when we return home. I have kept my hard end goal open; hoping to be able to do a late fall marathon but if we decide I will not be prepared I will instead attempt to run a half marathon personal best.
It is also important to decide what your motivation is. If you are feeling like your HAVE to run and you do not necessarily WANT to run, then that is likely a sure fire sign you should TAKE A BREAK!!
Directions: First thing is first you will be running somewhere you are not familiar with. My default when accessible is to run by the local body of water. So many cities are on some form of water whether it is a river, lake or ocean, and there is almost always some kind of water front path. If you can navigate your way to the water, then just go out and back a long the water, until you get a better handle on the layout of the city. Typically, the water is a tourist type area so there is lots to look at. ***DISCLAIMER be sure to take note of where you got on to the water. I have a tendency to zone out when I run so when in a new place I have to really make myself focus on some key landmarks in order to not get lost. Even better then that grab a map of the city before heading out. My trick is to put it in a plastic baggie as to not have it become a sweaty mess while I run.
Communication: Next point be sure to communicate your intentions with your travelling partner, if you are lucky maybe they will join you. If not (like in my case) be open with them letting them know your expectations when it comes to training and be willing to compromise on timing of your training sessions to accommodate for the travelling plans. I am so thankful my (now husband) is very supportive of my running and therefore does not put up a fuss when I head out for my runs. He actually enjoys having some downtime as I am fairly go-go when we are in a new place. Gives me a chance to see more of the city as well (I will sometimes bring my phone and make it a scenic run stopping for pics when something intrigues me).
Safety: Be sure to have a good idea of where you are going. Better yet bring a map or your phone with a picture of a map (if you are not using data, like I am currently not). It may be worth asking a local whether it be at a running store or concierge where a safe place to run would be. Another great idea is to look up local run groups and join in on the fun! Nike+ Run Club is in 85 cities around the world so they would definitely be one to check out.
Training: Do not be hard on yourself if you are not hitting the exact times you are supposed to and rather concentrate on the effort you are putting forth, meaning make sure it feels like for example 5k effort if that is what you are supposed to be doing. When travelling that usually means you are out of your regular routine; eating different and possibly at different times and sleeping patterns may be off. You are also likely doing a lot more activity than you typically do from your desk. So no beating yourself up just get it in and be proud of your self of that.
Be Prepared: Since you are in a new place you may not have the same access to water stops and/or bathrooms as you are used to on your typical routes. I brought a water bottle I could easily carry for my long runs. I also brought my own gels as I did not know if I would be at a running store or not. I also brought a euro/pound with me as it is common in Europe to have to pay for the public washrooms.
Embrace it: Lastly running can be THE BEST way to see a city. If I am heading out on a longer run I will bring my phone and take pictures along the way. I honestly think this is the best way to really immerse yourself in the city you are visiting. Embrace this!!!
Running can also make you feel more normal. We typically tend to throw ourselves off our routine and it can make you feel less than ideal. But running can be a great way to keep you feeling like you! And of course opens up some extra room for those extra calories or glasses of wine you otherwise would not have had. You will also feel better when you return from vacation with a decent fitness level and not sluggish.
With all of this being said if you have been training hard and have no upcoming goals… then enjoy the down time on your vacation and run when/if you feel like but do it because you want to and not because you have to!
Here are a few pics of the awesome places running has taken me in the last two and a half weeks: