Each month, several running bloggers team up to share you our best tips and tricks for running. This month features our best destination race tips to help you enjoy your next racecation.
Destination races offer the fun opportunity to combine a race – especially a long distance one such as a marathon or half marathon – with a vacation. If you are going to travel for a race, it simply makes sense to travel somewhere enjoyable! But oftentimes, a racecation is not as simple as running plus a vacation – it requires a little bit more planning than a local race or normal vacation.
Plan Based on Your Priorities
A racecation combines the best of both worlds – a race and a vacation – but oftentimes, you cannot have both a goal race and an enjoyable vacation. For example, Hawaii may be the ideal vacation spot for you, but the Honolulu Marathon may not be your best chance for a marathon PR based on the climate or the course. Decide which is the top priority – a goal race or a vacation – and plan the other aspect around it.
Sleep for Success
The best action you can take to ensure both a successful race and an enjoyable vacation is to be well-rested. If your racecation includes cross-country or international travel, plan your flights in a manner that sets you up for success. Avoid red-eye trips, arrive a day early to adjust to a different time zone, and even take melatonin or other natural sleep aids in advance to reset your sleep. (Note: do not take melatonin the night before a goal race.) Whatever you can do to optimize the quality of sleep will improve the quality of your destination race.
Pack for The Worst Case Scenario
No matter where you are traveling, the forecast is never completely accurate – and in popular racecation destinations such as Boston, Chicago, or New York, the weather can be downright volatile, Pack more variations of race day outfits than you anticipate needing, in case the weather is warmer or colder for race day.
Air travel, especially with multiple flights, poses the risk of lost luggage. Carry your most important pieces of race gear in your carry-on luggage to ensure a successful racecation.
Don’t Be Overly Ambitious in Your Post Race Plans
Sightseeing is best done after your race, as you want to rest your legs before running an event. Rested legs are especially important if you are running a goal race and want to achieve peak performance. That said, even when are finished with the race, you may find that you aren’t physically up for a vacation full of other activities. Consider how you usually feel after a race before making extensive active travel plans such as hiking after a race.
I completely believed I could hike at Yosemite after running the California International Marathon. CIM is a net downhill race and rendered my legs weak and exhausted in the following days. When we attempted to hike at Yosemite, I was able to climb one mile of a fairly steep ascent, but the hike down posed a significant challenge because my quads were so trashed from the day before.
When planning any activities after a destination race, keep in mind that you will likely be physically tired and sore after your race. Physically demanding activities may not be the best option the day after a long distance race. If possible, save those for a couple days after the race or, if you are short on time, find activities that allow you to enjoy the area while also recovering. A leisurely vacation or sightseeing may be a better choice for a destination race than a week of hiking or skiing.
Take Care of Your Immune System
Racing long distances suppresses your immune system, and travel compounds that weakened state with changes in routine, exposure to large crowds, and time on confined spaces such as planes. The post-marathon cold is all more likely when travel is part of the equation. Be diligent about hydration, sleep, washing your hands, and eating enough after the race to support your immune system as much as possible. You may choose not to drive or fly immediately after the race to give your body a few hours to recover and some sleep before exposing yourself to more germs. Even if it’s vacation, don’t skimp on sleep!
Read more destination race tips from other runners:
Have you ever run a destination race?
What are your best racecation tips?