How to Keep Running When Traveling

Travel trips to help you strike the right balance of enjoying your vacation without compromising your fitness.

Whether you are traveling for the holidays, work, or a vacation, travel tends to disrupt the routine of even the most dedicated runner. However, running is not an all-or-nothing sport. You can alter your routine to keep running during travel. These travel trips for runners will help you strike the right balance of enjoying your holiday or vacation and staying consistent with your running routine. 

Temporarily scale back your training

Sometimes, you are traveling to a location without easy access to safe places to run. Other times, you are too busy to run. Unless you are just a couple of months out from a marathon, a week of reduced or no training will have minimal effect on your fitness. Travel can be an ideal time to schedule a cutback week or take a short break from training, especially if you are not traveling often. 

You can also reduce your mileage to better fit in runs while traveling. A short run of 20-30 minutes still provides an aerobic stimulus. When you return from your trip, you will easily be able to resume your regular training. 

If your vacation is over a weekend or even a week, you can take a short hiatus from running. You may also decide to skip your runs if you are going on an active vacation, such as a hiking trip. When you return to running, you may feel flat for a run or two, but no fitness is lost. Detraining typically occurs after two weeks or more of missed training. 

Plan routes in advance

The Runkeeper Routes feature in the ASICS Runkeeper app will help you plan your route in advance. You can map out your route to know your distance and turns. If you still are not sure about your route, use Google Map street view to cross-reference. You can easily see if your route has sidewalks or a generous shoulder for safety. If your route does not look safe, then return to the Routes screen to map out another one. 

You can also ask the front desk at your hotel for suggestions. The concierge will be familiar with the area. They can recommend nearby trails, safe areas, and places to avoid. Some hotels even offer small printouts of running routes for you to carry with you. 

Hydrate and eat well 

Air travel, long hours out and about, and letting loose can also contribute to dehydration during travel. Dehydration will make runs feel sluggish and unpleasant. Diligent attention to hydration will help you feel energized on your runs. Carrying around a water bottle will help you stay hydrated on the go. 

In addition to hydrating, you want to eat well to keep your energy high. Busy travel can alter your eating habits. You may be waiting long periods of time between meals. If you are running later in the day, being too hungry can make your run feel hard and sluggish. A simple solution is to carry small, healthy snacks with you so that your energy stays high whenever you run. 

Run before the day escapes you

Time can easily get away from you during travel. It is all too easy for several hours to pass on a tour or at the beach. You also do not want to miss out on valuable and fun experiences when traveling just to fit in a run. The simplest solution is to run early before the itinerary of the day fills up. If you wait to run later in the day, you may be busy or tired from the day and it becomes too easy to skip your run. 

Early morning runs take planning, but a few extra steps are worth it. Setting an alarm, laying out your clothes the night before, and planning your route in advance will save you time in the morning. Many hotel rooms have coffee machines in the room, so you can easily get a caffeine fix before heading out to run. 

Adjust for time zone differences and altitude changes

Depending on your destination, you may change time zones or travel to a higher altitude (or both!). Different time zones and higher altitudes can pose challenges for running. If you travel from the United States to Central Europe, you will likely have an eight-hour time difference. This drastic change can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make sleep more difficult. 

High altitude will make running feel harder. The higher you travel, the thinner the air and the more difficult a run will feel. The high altitude at a mountain ski resort in Colorado will feel harder than a trip to Denver. At high altitudes, the lower atmospheric pressure affects the movement of oxygen into the blood. As a result, your muscles receive less oxygen to convert into energy. You work harder to maintain any given pace, so as a result, you run slower at the same effort. For some people, the reduction in oxygen uptake can cause nausea and headaches, a phenomenon known as altitude sickness. The effects are most acute in the short term, such as during travel. If you do run at high altitudes, prepare to run slower than you normally do. 

In either scenario, you want to approach training with flexibility. Some individuals adapt to high altitudes with minimal effects, while others can experience altitude sickness. Some experience more sleep disturbances from time zone changes. If you find yourself getting sick from high altitude or sleeping poorly from time zone changes, be willing to skip a run and give your body extra rest. The world will not end if you miss a run. 

With a combination of planning and flexibility, you can keep running during travel. Even if you end up not running at all, fitness maintains longer than the length of most trips. So enjoy your travel and, if you can, enjoy your runs in a new locale!