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Sara Stover

Living a story worth telling. Shining a light on stories worth sharing.




2015-08-17 21:47:33


I carelessly toss my training plan into the pile that I plan on jamming into my already overflowing suitcase. Maybe it will fit in between that new bikini and my favorite hoodie? If it’s this challenging to pack three pieces of paper, how will I pack in the actual workouts? That two hour run and a one mile swim… twice?!

Fortunately, this isn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve learned a few things about fitting workouts into vacations… without letting it ruin everyone else’s vacation! With a little creativity and flexibility, you can stay active on vacation!

1. Make it a Recovery Week

If you’re training for an actual event, you probably schedule in a recovery week every month. These are low volume weeks, and they complement vacation perfectly! Try moving the demanding workouts into the week before vacation. If you know you have a long run on the schedule, rearrange your week to get it in before you buckle up and head out of town. If you are concerned about missing your Friday night spin session while travelling, consider taking a different class in the AM. It may seem time consuming, but it will be worth the effort when you’re recovering poolside that weekend!

2. Make Time to Reevaluate

Ditching your family to fit that workout in may not always be an option. When they want to spend the day at the beach, that’s an ideal time to reevaluate your health and fitness goals. Bring a journal or notebook, and get writing. Here are some ideas to explore while you soak up the sun…

  • What goals have you already met? Celebrate that while you’re on vacation!
  • What goals have to be revised? Take advantage of the change of pace and scenery to redefine those.
  • What goals still require your attention? List some steps to take when you get home from your getaway.

3. Schedule It In

In our daily lives, we may feel too tired and busy to exercise. And a week off can mean more free time! But it’s easy to fill up every second with sightseeing and excursions. So be sure to schedule in your workouts just like you would with that tour you’re booking or those dinner reservations. If you plan ahead, you may find you have more time for your workouts than you thought!

4. Burn Calories Sightseeing

So you have plenty of time, but no motivation to workout, because hey, it’s vacation! Don’t feel guilty about choosing to enjoy your surroundings instead of sweating it up in the hotel gym. Incorporate exercise into sightseeing by walking or running. My husband and I did this in July while we were visiting DC for the 4th.

Even though we’ve been there before, we discovered dozens of new sights and even some fantastic shops because we chose to walk from our hotel to the parade and back. If you want to check out that monument or cozy café for brunch, skip the tour bus or taxi cab. Your body will thank you, and you’ll experience a town or city in a way that you just can’t in a car!

5. Skip this, Not that

Are you stressed about missing that Masters swim class or track workout while you’re away? It’s OK to take a vacation from that weekly class, the gym, and even your running watch. But don’t throw in the beach towel and skip exercise all together. Instead, participate in something with local flavor! Here are some of my favorite workout substitutes.

  • Our first day in Nashville was a beautiful one for a run. When it snowed the next day, we tried line dancing instead.
  • Line dancing not really your thing? Hula is a great core workout!
  • Many cities have Bike Share Programs. You can easily rent an inexpensive bike and go exploring!
  • Check out any State and National Parks that are nearby, go for a hike, or just enjoy a walk on a peaceful trail.

Be open to trying new activities that are unique to the area you are visiting. Curious about taking a Barre class at the all-inclusive resort, or kayaking in the lake you’ve pitched your tent next to? Skip the workout stress and give it a try. You just might come back from vacation with a new sport in your fitness suitcase!

6. Map It

Still concerned about losing months of hard-earned fitness with every sunny second you’re away? Then please, find the nearest trail or gym and get that workout in before you drive your family insane already! Think there’s no place to run in Chicopee, Mass? Check out Walk Jog Run and Map My Run and you’ll be surprised how many fellow fitness nuts have posted their route recommendations online!

Many areas participate in City Running Tours, which takes the guess work out of navigating unknown roads by pairing visitors up with local runners who will share their city’s sights with you!

And the hotels concierge always come through for me. Having worked at a hotel, trust me, they have the maps, and the knowledge to help you get around and enjoy their hometown. Just keep in mind that you will have to get back to your hotel or rental, and plan your route accordingly!

7. Jump Right In

Summer’s longer days and warmer nights make it a popular time for vacations. But when warm borders on HOT, exercise can be miserable, and even risky. If a sweat fest and dehydration are not your favorite way to enjoy your time away, embrace water sports! Swim laps in the hotel pool, boogie board, take a surfing lesson, or rent a canoe! BONUS: Make it a family activity, and you’re sure to make some special memories while you burn calories!

Be Safe – If you’re not conditioned to the heat, take plenty of caution when working out in hot, humid climates. Stay hydrated with a sports drink, and lather on the sunscreen! Be smart about where and when you work out, and stick to the streets that your concierge or local runners recommend. Avoid being out at dark, and listening to your music too loud, so you can see and hear what’s going on around you! And always let your family or friends know where you will be running, biking or hiking too. Better yet, bring them along!

Pack This – Whenever I fly, a swimsuit, goggles, my Waterproof iPod shuffle, running watch and my running shoes are the first items to get packed in my carry-on. My Dad always says “If you get stranded in some airport, at least you can go for a run, or a swim in a hotel pool!”

At the end of your vacation, you still want to be able to fit into that cute bikini, right?! And with a little planning and an open mind, you might actually return from your vacation in better shape than when you left!

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