There is no denying that I have a severe case of wanderlust.
I love to travel and explore, as frequently as family, scheduling, and finances allow. (If it were up to me, I’d never stay in one place for more than week). The world is such a huge, amazing place that it almost seems crazy that one wouldn’t want to see and explore all that our planet has to offer.
There is also no denying that I love running. I am a runner after all, it’s what we tend to do.
Needless to say, destination racing is high on my frequent to-do list, as it combines two of my absolute favorite things: traveling and running. What better way to see the sights of a new city than by foot? Race courses will typically take you not only through the most popular touristy areas of town, but through some of the more hidden, less traveled paths. This of course presents a unique opportunity to see things that aren’t listed on the chamber of commerce’s neatly put together city brochure. Usually this is a good thing, but occasionally will give you more than you bargained for.
Like that one time I ran a marathon down streets covered in garbage, a few dead rats, and past boarded up, abandoned apartment buildings. We’ll leave that city anonymous, but needless to say it was an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
So while destination racing may seem like a great way to kill two birds with one stone, the added plot twist of vulnerability to a new location and new schedule can certainly put a camper on race day if you aren’t careful.
1) Keep your running gear close. We’ve all heard the cardinal rule of “not trying anything new on race day.” So imagine the predicament you might be in if your suitcase carrying your running shoes, socks, sports bra, etc. ends up on the wrong plane, delayed, or worse…lost. If you are flying, keep your precious racing gear in your carry on luggage.
2) Give yourself time. Traveling can be a hectic adventure in and of itself. If you are traveling solely for the purpose of running a race, make sure you give yourself enough time to accommodate possible delays, traffic jams, and any other unforeseen time consuming events.
Further, if you are traveling to a race that is in a different climate or altitude, give yourself plenty of time to acclimate. Otherwise your race may end up slightly (or a lot) more miserable than you bargained for.
3) Watch what you eat..at least until after the race. As we mentioned above, no new things on race day. This goes for food as well. Sure it may be tempting to try that rich, decadent meal at a restaurant while on vacation. But just think of how that may affect…or ruin…your race. Stick with your regular meals prior to the race, then indulge on the local specialties AFTER the race as you celebrate your finish.
4) Hydrate. Travel can easily dehydrate you. Whether it’s because you didn’t want to have to use the airplane bathroom multiple times during your flight, or because you were too busy exploring a new city to remember to drink up…you could find yourself in a less than hydrated position when you line up for your race. Speaking of flying, here’s a random fun fact: the humidity level in airplanes is typically kept at 10 to 20 percent — much lower than a typical indoor humidity of 30 to 65 percent, which can lead to dehydration.
And let’s not forget all of those on-flight Bloody Mary’s!
Point being, carry a water bottle and sip from it often.
5) Rest. This is so much easier said than done while traveling. Sure, the point of a vacation is to relax, but more often than not we end up on the go. Remember that you need to be well rested for your race, so save the busy days on your feet for after the race. Besides, all of that exploring will counts active recovery!
Destination racing is a fantastic way to not only visit new places, but to check races off of your bucket list. Just be sure to keep your normal pre race routine mind, and adhere to it as best as possible to ensure you have an enjoyable race.