We are on vacation this week in Myrtle Beach, SC. We usually vacation here once per summer, and in the three years that I’ve been running, I’ve found that even when you love running, getting those runs in while you’re on vacation is tough (for me, anyway).
Here’s why running on vacation is tough:
- You’re probably not fueling as well as you could/should.
For me, vacation is about letting myself splurge a bit on foods I wouldn’t normally eat (goat cheese oysters, anyone?), and having a few extra glasses of beer or wine throughout the week. I’m not a big drinker – the hubs and I like to enjoy a glass of wine, or a beer or two, usually once a week (sometimes two) – but on vacation, we might do this a couple of nights throughout the week. I notice a big difference in my running on the days after I’ve had a drink, even if it’s just one drink, so the cumulative effect of this across a few nights definitely has a major impact on my runs.
- You don’t feel like running.
I love running, but sometimes when I’m on vacation, I feel like I’d like to take a week off from it, just like I’m taking a week off from work, in order to get into full relaxation mode. If I was between training cycles, I might consider doing this (or at least just doing a couple short, easy runs), but since I’m in the middle of training for the Wineglass Half Marathon (and I’m only about a month out now….eek!), I don’t feel like I could do this without it having a pretty big impact on my training overall. So, I run, but it’s not with the same enthusiasm that I usually have when I’m not on vacation.
- You’re not sleeping as much or as well.
When you’re on vacation and staying out late doing fun things, you may not be getting as much rest as you need. This is particularly true if, like me, you have kids who wake up at the butt crack of dawn every day, regardless of how late they stayed up the night before. Unfortunately, being extra tired makes running more difficult, and running when you’re already tired makes you even more tired than you were before, which (at least in my case) feeds the whole “don’t feel like running” issue noted above. It’s a vicious cycle.
- You vacation some place hotter and/or hillier than your usual terrain.
Although some of us head to the mountains or the ski slopes for vacation, my family tends to head south and toward the ocean. Myrtle Beach is usually a bit more hot than Maryland is, and just as humid. Running down here in the summer can be rough, even if you’re out the door around 5:30-6:00AM like I am. If you’re a runner in the South or Southwest, you definitely have my respect.
And though you might not think of the coast as a place that is especially hilly, the part of Myrtle Beach where we vacation is a bit hillier than where we live in Maryland – although, truth be told, pretty much anywhere is hillier than where I live, which has almost nothing that could accurately be described as a “hill.” On my flatlander legs, those hills combined with the heat and humidity make for way tougher runs than I’m used to.
Combine all of these issues together, and it’s pretty easy to see why running on vacation is hard. The upside, of course, is that you likely have a beautiful view of something and you get to explore a place through running that is new and different from your usual scenery. I don’t think there’s any better way to explore a place than running (with biking being a close second).
Today, I had an 8 mile long run scheduled that I knew was going to be tough. Oddly enough, I had an 8 mile long run to do during last year’s vacation (when I thought I’d be running a marathon that Fall…) and it was a beast to get through, despite the fact that I was running 10-, 12-, and 14- milers at that point in my training plan. That should’ve been my first sign that today’s run was going to go as it did…
Originally, I was planning to get this run done on Friday so that I wouldn’t have to worry about doing a long run on vacation, but I had too much going on between wrapping things up at work and packing, so that didn’t happen. I also had to get the rest of last week’s runs (two 3-milers and one 4-miler) done consecutively due to my schedule at work, and I didn’t want to bookend that with the long run and wind up injuring myself.
The weather this morning was actually much better than I could’ve hoped for: 72 degrees, with a dewpoint of 68 degrees and 86% humidity when I went out around 6:15AM. The run started off well – I paced myself so that I’d have plenty left in the tank for the last few miles (after having to re-learn last week not to go out too hard in the first couple of miles). Feeling good, I decided to head down to the beach and run on the sand if the tide was out, which it was. While running on loose sand is a workout all on its own, I’ve found that running on the packed, wet sand near the shoreline isn’t nearly as hard, so if the tide is out, I’ll often run on this part of the beach. The beach here is long and flat, so it’s actually great for running, and I passed quite a few other runners while I was out this morning.
Things were going well until I turned around after about 1.5 miles and got hit with a killer headwind. (No wonder things had been going well up until that point, with such a nice tailwind!) The 1.5 miles back up the beach in that headwind were hard to get through, and getting through the loose, dry sand at the top of the beach to get back on the road was even more difficult. I was really worn out at this point and still had half my run to go. Never a good sign.
I tried to slow myself down quite a bit after this so that I could make it through the next 4 miles, but things just didn’t work out as I’d hoped. I ended up having to take a walk break from 5.8 to 6.0 miles, and again from about 6.7 to 7.5 miles. During this second walk break, I came across a butterfly in the middle of the sidewalk that appeared to be injured. I walked past it once but came back again, worrying that it might get stepped on or run over, and placed it in a garden patch.
I’m sure there’s a metaphor here somewhere, but I’m still trying to figure out what it is.
Anyway, the best way I can describe today’s run is “humbling.” I can remember a time when I thought getting in an 8 mile run wasn’t a big deal, and sometimes I still catch myself having these mildly arrogant thoughts, so maybe I need to be humbled from time to time with runs like today’s so that I can be reminded that running is hard. Getting back into shape is hard. Eating right and hydrating properly can be hard. I have a long way to go to get back to where I was before I got pregnant. I have to remind myself of these things and not just obsess over how to get back to where I was.
But, for now, my goal is to have fun on vacation with these goofballs before we all go back to work and school next week 🙂 Meanwhile, am I the only one having trouble realizing that summer is almost OVER?! I have no idea where the last three months went!