If you’re an athlete you have probably been in the situation where your significant other or family wants to do something that isn’t conducive to training. Going out to concerts, late night dinners, weekend trips or even extended vacations during heavy building periods of marathon training.

It took a long time for my spouse to realize that running and sport were just an inherent part of my life and something I actually enjoyed doing on vacation even without an event in mind. It took a bit of self advocacy and understanding to say “hey, it is my vacation too, and these are things I like to do on vacation!” How dare they want to have fun and do things other than train for races 😉

At this point I’ve trained for half marathons, ultra swimming events and marathons while on extended trips out of country. Here are my pro tips for getting it done and having a fun time with your family.

Write Down Your Schedule Before You Leave

A bit of a no brainer to start, but pull up your itinerary and your training schedule and document either in your digital calendar or on a on note in your phone the mileage or activity you are planning to do each day. Being able to visually see the activities and locations next to your training schedule will enable you to rearrange for the greatest probability for success. Practically speaking, if you have a morning flight, you won’t be running in the morning and it could be a better cross training day.

Arizona trail running

Below is the plan I put together before I ever left the US on my 3 Week Trip to South Africa:

  • Friday – Johannesburg – long run 14mi (22.5km)
  • Saturday – Johannesburg – 40min swim if the pool isn’t cold, or 5k run
  • Sunday – Waterburg Safari – yoga/swim
  • Monday – Waterburg Safari -yoga/swim
  • Tuesday – Port Elizabeth – swim or run outside
  • Wednesday – Knysna – run along bay
  • Thursday – Knysna – run along bay
  • Friday – Hermanas – run along bay
  • Saturday – Boschendal Vineyard in Franschoeck- 15mi
  • Sunday – Boschendal Vineyard in Franschoeck – swim or run
  • Monday thru Friday – Taj Cape Town – run or swim
  • Friday get in a 13mi long run in Taj

Most of the above plan was executed, believe it or not! There were flex cross train days built in that I may have opted to go on a long walk or hike and the long runs were prioritized as part of marathon training.

Convert Distances Ahead of Time

This happened in Turkey and as well in South Africa. The treadmill only counted in kilometers! When running distances that aren’t a 5K or 10K, I really have no idea how many miles I’ve run. When wifi is spotty and you’re relying on a machine to tell you your distance, write down in your training plan what the converted distance is in the local country’s convention. This will save you the struggle of calculating distance only after completing your run.

Alternatively, you can always run for time. We typically know how long it takes to run 1, 3, 5miles, so why not just shoot for your typical time? You may be surprised at how accurate time based running can be.

Hiking along Everest Base Camp Trek

Research Hotel Gyms and Local Trails

I always flip through the “Amenities” section of the hotel gallery. Even the most basic of hotel gyms have at least one treadmill, no matter how depressing the lighting or size of the gym may be. One thing to look out for is any boutique hotels. Chances are, they won’t have any gym equipment but could be located near a local gym chain that you can get a day pass for ~$15. Check your own gym membership ahead of time to see if you have a national plan. I’ve worked out at YMCAs in many states and have rarely ever paid an upcharge.

Depending on your location and the safety of that location, you can simply run outside the old school way. I have run along many beaches and other bodies of water where there is often an established running trail for the locals. There is something very “vacation” feeling when running along a new scenic route.

Appalachian Trail hiking

Ask Your Travel Partner to Join You

One of the best parts of vacation is leaving behind the day to day practical logistics of functioning as a family unit and being able to engage your significant other in a purely fun capacity. Fun includes the planned travel itinerary activities, but can also include some form of movement; this is a walk, run, playing tennis, golf, any local sport in the city or country you are traveling to.

With little kids my favorite activities are mini golf and swimming! There is something so delightful about mini golf with kids (probably all the crazy decorations and obstacles) which keeps everyone entertained for an afternoon.

Recently in South Africa, I convinced my spouse to go on portions of my 5 mile runs, and he ended up doing the entire run with me. Especially later in the trip when we are feeling a bit stuffed with good food and drinking, running together was fun and needed for our bodies.

Don’t Get Hung Up if You Skip a Workout

This is hard for any athlete to wrap their mind around, but sometimes vacation is for true vacationing. The beautiful thing about the human body is that fitness isn’t gained in 3 weeks and won’t be lost in 3 weeks on vacation with your family. Oftentimes we are more active than we even realize in a vacation if it involves exploring a new city and visiting different tourist sites. Air travel days alone are high step count dates, going through security, and walking around expansive airports.

Do you avoid vacations during marathon training or embrace them? Let me know in the comments!

Posted by:Allie

4 replies on “How to Train for a Marathon While on an Extended Vacation

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