Start planning your perfect running excursion now.
Going for a run during a holiday is pretty standard for most of us. It’s the perfect opportunity for ‘me time’, an opportunity to explore a new area, or an outlet to burn off last night’s cocktails.
But what if running is the holiday – as in, you actually plan a trip around a race, or a running experience. That’s the idea behind ‘runcations’, a term popularised by bloggers to describe a running vacation.
“A runcation is sort of similar to a destination wedding,” says Kristen Geil, who blogs at A Sweat Life. “But instead of a wedding, you and your friends will be running a race or possibly some iconic trails or routes.”
Let’s get one thing straight first: you don’t have to be a fast or even a long-time runner to go on a runcation. Anyone can – and should – travel for a race. “A runcation is a great incentive for someone just getting into running,” Geil says. “You can set a destination goal race and use that to keep you motivated in your training.”
Secondly, you don’t have to plan your runcation around a long race. Sure, a half or full marathon might justify the trip more than a 5K. “I personally wouldn’t spend money on hotels and flights if the race is over in 30 minutes,” Geil says. You don’t even need a race – there are running getaway weekends as well as adult running camps.
Think of a runcation as your chance to do that race on your bucket list – or just get away with some like-minded runners. Intrigued? Here’s why you should consider travelling for your next run adventure:
Get the Gang Together
If you’re racing, knowing you’ll be running with friends will keep you driven during training and during the actual race. You’ll have a buddy for the expo, for meals, and for splitting hotel costs.
Not to mention, two-plus brains are better than one when it comes to getting up on time and locating the start line. Extend the invitation to non-running friends as well.
“Having a familiar face cheering for you in a strange city can really give you an extra boost,” Geil explains. “Plus, it can be incredibly convenient to have someone around to drive you to/from expos and starting/finish lines if necessary, or stash an extra set of clothes and water in their backpack.” Whether your friends are runners or not, you’ll also have people to celebrate with after the race.
Indulge in New Cuisine
And speaking of celebrating, another perk of a runcation is treating yourself to a city’s local cuisine.
“In San Francisco after the [Nike Women’s Half Marathon], we treated ourselves to a delicious seafood dinner,” Geil says, “and we enjoyed our pasta dinner the night before at one of the city’s most loved Italian restaurants.”
If the place you’re visiting is known for a certain type of food, consider eating that as your post-run reward.
See a New Locale
Exploring a city on foot is a great way to loosen up after a race, or just discover a new place.
“Instead of laying around a hotel room watching TV after a race, take a quick shower and head right back out to explore the city,” Geil says. “It’s the perfect way to preemptively walk out any soreness you might have while seeing the city.”
You’ll likely see areas of town you missed during the run and have the opportunity to do some shopping at local shops and boutiques.
Convinced? Here’s how to get the ball rolling:
- Get your friends to commit early. You’ll need time to plan, train and save money.
- Pick your destination. Women’s-only races are fun because they cater to female runners, taking the ‘girls weekend’ one step further. Relay races are also fun because everyone works together toward a common goal. Weekend getaways are great because there’s no pressure of a race.
- If money is an issue, consider racing for a charity. Some races forgo race fees if you’re raising money for charity. “Our team is raising a total of $10,000 for the local hospital,” says Geil. “For doing so, we don’t have to pay any race fees and we also get special perks before, after and during the race.”
And here are a few things to consider during the weekend:
- If your hotel has a pool or spa, go for a dip. Being in the water is a great way to rest tired legs. If you’re racing, don’t spend too much time on your feet in the days leading up to the race. You’ll want to feel fresh on race day, so avoid long walks or standing in super-long lines. Instead, opt for activities that allow your body to rest.
- If possible, don’t hop on a plane or in a car immediately after a race. Your tired muscles will hate you. Instead, give yourself a day or two explore on foot.
- Realise that things might not go as planned. “A flight delay or accidentally booking a room with a single bed for three girls, shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the race and the vacation,” Geil says. “Being flexible and not stressing out over travel mishaps will make your race much more enjoyable than if you’re focused on racing for a PB.”
- Most of all, relax and have fun. It’s a runcation, after all!