How to Plan your Next “Run-cation”!
Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer which means, “run-cation” season has arrived!
What is a run-cation? This is a vacation you take with the main purpose being to run a destination race. It is especially popular for Texas half and full marathoners looking to escape the heat to run a race in a cooler climate (and then make a vacation out of it)!
Whether you have your next “run-cation” on the books this summer or if you will be traveling later in the year for a fall marathon, we have you covered on what to bring, how to mimic your race day routine while away from home, and more!
- When to leave and how to structure my trip?
When running a destination race, be sure to leave yourself enough time to not only travel to the destination, but also to relax and recover from any time differences and/or travel stress. If your race is stateside, I recommend traveling at least the day before your race, if not 2 days before. This will allow extra time for any travel delays that could occur but will also allow you time to attend a packet pick up, grab groceries, get a quick shakeout in, and to relax. When traveling internationally, additional time should be allowed to factor in time differences and eliminate jet lag.
- What to bring and how to pack it for an airport?
When traveling for any race, there are a few “musts” as it relates to packing. First, be sure to pack your race day outfit, running accessories, and shoes in your carry on. This will alleviate any stress if a checked bag is lost or delayed, as these items are difficult to replace the day before a race. Additional items to pack include:
- Mini foam roller (can be added to your checked bag)
- On the run nutrition such as gels and a post-workout protein (can be carried on or added to a checked bag), along with any needed shaker cups/water bottles.
- Clothes and shoes to change into post-race.
- “Throw away clothes” – these are especially important if you are running in a very cool climate or running a marathon. Throw away clothes are clothes that you wear to the finish line to keep warm and leave on the sidelines before starting. Typically, in a large race volunteers will pick up any clothes left at the starting line and donate them to local shelters in need.
- Running headphones, handheld water bottle, running belt, and any other accessories that will be used on race day.
- Extra socks and running outfits, just in case
- Once I arrive, how can I prepare?
Once you have arrived at your destination and are settled into your hotel, there are a few things to do to be as prepared as possible. First, plan to go for a very light jog or walk to shake out your legs from being on an airplane. Additionally, plan to attend the packet pickup/expo (if applicable) but avoid walking around all day at the expo. This wastes energy and can lead to eating food/drink samples of items you typically wouldn’t eat before a race.Last but not least, don’t do anything you didn’t do during your training period, especially with nutrition. This might mean you need to go to the grocery store to pick up oatmeal, bananas, bread, and any other pre-race food you ate during your training. Pro Tip – call your hotel in advance and find out if they will have a microwave and/or fridge available in your room or for public use. That said, if you know you will be running a destination race, it is a good idea to plan what food options will be available to you and practice training with it ahead of time. A few examples: if you know there is a Subway restaurant near your hotel and you’d like to eat there the night before, prepare by eating Subway the night before your long training runs. You can also prepare by eating breakfast items before a long run that can also be eaten in a hotel room with only a microwave.
- When does my “vacation” begin?
Plan extra time after your race for sightseeing and for the vacation portion of your trip. Avoid doing too much before the race so that your body is not burnt out already at the starting line. Ideally, the run-cation would involve travel the day before your race with minimal activities planned upon arrival and an early bedtime. After race day, plan to stay for a few extra days if possible, this way there is little temptation to pack in plans beforehand.
Overall, if you miss one of the seps above, don’t panic! Run-cations are meant to be a fun experience and are a great way to explore a city on foot. Keep your priority on having fun and the rest will follow! Happy Traveling!