We at Team Casual Runner love summer. Of all of the seasons, it is definitely in our top 4. Summer is all about warm weather, longer daylight hours, travel, and great times and adventures with family and friends. Last month we shared some tips for running while on your vacation, but that is not what we are talking about here. We are here to talk about getting ready for your vacation.
No, we aren’t talking about getting the perfect beach body for bathing suit season, we will leave that to others as we are certainly not experts on such things. We are talking about how Casual Running can help put you in the best physical position to enjoy your vacation.
As you may have picked up, Candace and I love taking on new adventures, and when we travel, “taking it easy” is not exactly in our vocabulary. We just returned from a quick Independence Day trip to Walt Disney World with some friends, and we managed to push ourselves so hard on this trip that I may have even outdone myself this time.
You see, one of the great, unintended benefits of my Casual Running fitness routine is that it provides me with an abundance of energy and endurance, allowing me to pack a lot of activity into my days, especially when I travel. I realized on this past trip that I often take this for granted. Before I started running, I went on a Disney vacation with Jennifer and a few of our friends. At the time I was very overweight and extremely out of shape. While I tried to attack the Disney theme parks commando style from rope drop to the kiss goodnight (no, I am not speaking gibberish, these are all common terms among Disney fans, don’t worry if you don’t get them all), I was so exhausted that it was all that I could do to climb into bed back at my hotel each night. I just did not have the physical stamina to take on such aggressive touring plans and I literally made myself sick because of it. I could never have imagined, at that point in my life, tacking a runDisney race, let alone a half marathon, onto my vacation adventures.
Believe it or not, Candace and I did not do any running on our recent trip. But that is not to say that it was not physically demanding nonetheless. Here are our daily walking totals for this trip: 19.06, 11.6, 14.2, and 11.26 miles respectively. Keep in mind, that the last day included an early afternoon flight home, so yeah, we covered a lot of ground in not a lot of time. By comparison, my step mileage for the 3 days leading up to this trip was 2.23, 1.2, and 1.08 miles respectively (no, I did not have any training runs on those days as I was in a rest cycle).
At the end of the first day (the one that included a 3 a.m. wake up call, a flight from Ohio to Orlando, 19.06 miles of walking, all 4 Disney parks in 1 day, AND a heat index of 105 degrees), I grew fatigued and eventually became sick. I was legit sick with the classic signs of early onset of heat exhaustion. I may have bitten off more than I could chew, especially in the heat and humidity of a Central Florida Summer. And this was with me be in reasonably good physical condition, I mean, I did just successfully run a half marathon and a 5k at Cedar Point two weeks earlier. But i was not prepared for the combination of hot conditions and demanding phsyical schedule. Fortunately, due in large part to my physical conditioning from Casual Running, after a good night’s rest and plenty of air conditioning and ice cold water, I was back at it and ready to go the next day.
When we went to Disney World in April for the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Dark Side race weekend, aided by cooler temperatures, our daily walking and running step totals were 10.63, 8.56, 12.03, 22.16, 21.58, 13.88, and 12.84 miles. Yes, that is a LOT of miles even when you back out the 19.3 miles for the Star Wars 10k and the Dark Side Half Marathon. Needless to say, we could never maintain such aggressive touring plans without a sufficient base of physical fitness, and no, we would not want to travel any other way.
We are not saying that everyone has to be as crazy as we are when it comes to travel, or even Casual Running, but if you are going to be going on a vacation, you should be mindful of two things. First, while you want to relax and unwind, this sometimes includes physical activity, which may either be more activity, or at least a different kind of activity, than you are used to getting in your normal daily routine. Both of these can take their toll on your body over the course of several days. Second, if you do not have a sufficient fitness base, your body will give out long before your spirit and your will do. This is not a recipe for enjoying your dream vacation.
So how do you make sure you are in sufficient shape to meet your travel expectations? No, you do not have to train for a marathon, but if you are keeping up with a regular Casual Running training routine, you are well on your way. You can also supplement your running days with walking days. If you are going to have a long phone call with a friend of college, grab a headset and take your phone along as you walk a few miles while reminiscing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Heck, even PokemonGo will help get you up on your feet and moving.
As you will most likely not be travelling alone, make sure your family, friends, and/or travel buddies are also mindful of the need to condition themselves. A few weeks before you leave, encourage them to get out and start walking a few miles each day. Take your trip planning discussions out on the walking trails instead of having them at the kitchen table. Soon they will start realizing how much better they feel from the increased activity, even before they leave for vacation.
Before you leave for vacation, select comfortable walking or running shoes. Those strappy sandals and high heels may go perfect with your outfit, but they will not get the job done when your FitBit tells you that you hit the double digits in miles.
Once on vacation: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. If you are consuming some (or many) tasty adult beverages, make sure you have plenty of water before you reach for your first (or next) cold one. In addition to hydrating before you start drinking it up, mix in some water during and after as well, you will be glad that you did.
These tips are not limited to Disney World vacations, they work for any kind of vacation. You would be surprised just how much walking is involved when trying to tour the sites of Washington, D.C. or New York City. This is not to mention hiking trips and visits to national parks. Even walking up and down a beach or taking on 18 holes of golf a day can be taxing in the summer sun. We have not even discussed chasing after little kids all day long. So, whatever adventures you may have planned, do yourself a favor and condition yourself before you go. A little physical fitness will go a long way to helping you make lasting memories!
Taking those steps to train for your vacation will not necessarily give you that perfect beach body, but it may just make your vacation that much more enjoyable. Oh, and once your family and friends get started training for their vacation, you never know, they may just like the activity enough to be compelled to log their First Mile. Well, we can only hope!
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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!