Let’s face it, when you’re an endurance athlete, you’re probably going to be training for a race through the prime vacation season. Many athletes feel the pressure to maintain their usual training routine and intensity even during vacations and family getaways, leading to extra stress, frustration, and exasperated family members.
The great news is that, with the right planning, you don’t have to derail your training OR ruin your family vacation! Here are eight strategies and tips to help you fully enjoy your next vacation without compromising your training and racing goals.
1. Schedule your vacation during a recovery week
Work with your coach or adjust your training plan so that your vacation is a recovery week. That way, you won’t worry about missing key workouts, and you’ll have plenty of energy and enthusiasm to fully enjoy the adventures and activities of your vacation.
Typically, recovery weeks come after a heavy training week. So, the “forced” recovery time during vacation can be a great way to avoid the temptation of overdoing it when you should be recovering.
2. Prioritize one or two key workouts during vacation
Another approach is to choose which two or three workouts to prioritize during vacation. Then identify a few chunks of time during your getaway when you’ll be able to conquer those workouts. If you’re planning a vacation with your family, it’s wise to negotiate with other family members about these exercise times. Make sure everyone’s on the same page.
If you’re unsure which workouts to emphasize and which ones to treat as “negotiable,” your coach can definitely help with that!
Pro tip: Try to put those key workouts as early in your vacation as possible. Don’t put the tough workouts near the end of the vacation when you’re less likely to do them.
3. Make training sessions part of the vacation adventures
They say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Another approach is to integrate some of those training sessions right into the vacation activities! Swimming in the ocean, sunrise yoga, or going for a leisurely family bike ride can all count toward your training plan, especially if you’re in a recovery week.
4. Embrace the cross-training
Vacation is an excellent time to get in some quality cross-training. Hike a local trail. Kayak, surf, canoe, or SUP the waterways. Play a rousing game of sand soccer or sand volleyball with the family. And don’t discount all the walking around amusement parks or sightseeing!
There are many creative ways to cross-train during vacation that can actually be really beneficial to your overall conditioning.
5. Plan your workouts around the family routine
If you’re committed to maintaining a lot of your usual training load, plan around your family’s routine to set yourself up for success. If your family tends to get a later start to the day, commit to being the “early riser” and get your workouts done before breakfast. Or, you might need to prepare to squeeze those workouts in after dark when everyone’s tuckered out from the day’s adventures.
If your family celebrates “nap time” during the day, you might need to commit to logging those miles while the kids log the Zs.
6. Choose locations with amenities that help you conquer your workouts
This one might seem obvious, but if your vacation travels involve staying in hotels or other accommodations, find places that offer the right amenities. A hotel gym lets you log an early morning strength or treadmill session. An Airbnb with a pool might become your favorite training area as swim tethers can turn even the smallest pool into a training asset.
Scope out amenities and options in advance, so you’re ready with a plan for your workouts before your vacation begins. Even planning the “where” and “how” in advance increases the likelihood that you’ll actually follow through and accomplish those workouts.
7. Scope out cycling and running routes in advance
Sites like MapMyRun.com, Strava, and RunThePlanet.com are great resources to find great local running routes for your next vacation destination. Choose some running and cycling routes before you leave home so you’re prepped and ready. This will enable you to use your vacation workout time efficiently.
Pro tip: pick out a few running and cycling routes that are about the distances you’ll need. That way, if one route doesn’t pan out, you’ll have some backup options.
8. Communication and flexibility are key
No matter what approach you use for training during vacation, communication is critical. Communicate with your coach and decide together what’s reasonable for you to expect of yourself. Communicate with your family, friends, and significant others before and during the vacation, so everyone’s on the same page.
Finally, be flexible and gracious with yourself. Even the pros give themselves space and time to step away from time to time. One or two missed workouts really won’t derail your overall training plan. Be flexible with your workout strategy. Remember that rest is just as critical to athletic success as nailing those intervals.
Gregg Edelstein is a certified USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, an IRONMAN University Certified Coach and a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach based in the greater Boston area. Gregg offers his athletes insight on the principles of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention, working to make them well-rounded and engaged athletes that share his passion for sport. Gregg can be reached at Greg@TeamMPI.com