How to Stay on Track With Marathon Training While on Vacation

Local runners offer helpful tips for staying fit even while at the beach.

Missing a training run during vacation won't hurt your marathon training, say local runners and coaches. Consider asking your vacation buddies to tag along for a few miles of your long run to make it more bearable. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Believe it or not, training programs for fall marathons began last week. (Seriously, summer, slow down!) But how is a well-meaning runner supposed to fit in a 15-mile run during prime vacation time?

First things first: “Shrug it off,” says running coach Kathy Pugh, who adds that vacation should be synonymous with relaxation. “The last thing you want to do is irritate your traveling companions by doing a 20-mile run and not having any energy left to sightsee or enjoy their company.” Still, that doesn’t mean you should become a complete coach potato, especially if your vacation is a week or longer. We rounded up more tips from Pugh and other local runners and coaches for staying on track even while on vacation.

1) Run in the morning.
It’s the “best advice I can give to staying on track during vacation and holidays,” says professional runner Mike Wardian. Getting the run over with leaves the rest of the day open for vacation fun or family time. Wardian recommends running to the beach and having your family meet you at the nearest breakfast joint when they wake up.

2) Don’t freak out about missing a run.
Missing the occasional long run in July or August won’t set you back for an October race, say running coaches Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann. Just don’t miss two or three consecutive long runs. It helps if you stay active on vacation, whether you swim every day, take some hikes, or play golf. Adds Wardian, “The break might be good, but if you want to achieve your running goals, then making the time to run is going to have a big impact.”

3) Embrace the treadmill.
“A very long run on the treadmill is dreadful,” admits Pugh, but sometimes it’s necessary while on vacation. Alternatively, consider using the hotel gym to fit in a speed workout and amping up your strength training.

4) Join a local running store’s fun run.
A great way to tour a city and meet some locals is to head to the nearest running store, such as Niketown or Lululemon, to join a fun run. Road Runners Club of America often welcomes guests for marathon training runs at local clubs. You can also sign up for a City Running Tour

5) Split up a long run.
“Say you are scheduled to run 16 miles while away,” says Pugh. “You could run eight miles on Saturday and eight on Sunday.” It’s not the same as running 16 miles straight through, but it’s much better than doing nothing at all.

6) Reschedule your training week.
The world will not end if you move your long run to a weekday and your speed workout to the weekend. “If you are headed to the beach from Saturday to Saturday, try to do your long run on the Friday before vacation,” recommend Sapper and Reichmann. “Although it’s not ideal to start a run at 4:30 AM on a Friday to get in 15 miles before work, it’s great to have it out of the way before the start of vacation the following day.”

7) Rope in your friends.
Let’s be honest: You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’s willing to run the whole 13 miles with you. But if you simply can’t skip the run, ask your vacation buddies to run a few with you along the way. That way the run will be more bearable, Sapper and Reichmann say—and after, you can lounge at the pool or spa together.