How to have a vacation without regret!

You’ve worked hard, got yourself in great shape and fitness levels, have your next ultra in 6 weeks time but first……2 weeks vacation with the family!

But it doesn’t have to mean no fun nor does it have to mean starting from scratch.

Here’s a few tips and lessons I learnt on our recent family vacation to Marco Island, Florida, USA which was just 6 weeks before the 43mile Devil O The Highlands ultramarathon.

As always, this is just from my personal experience and findings….treat it as such but hopefully it’ll help you too whether you’ve got a race coming up or just want to keep your fitness levels.

1. Leave the gadgets and split times behind.

You’re on holiday.  Unless you are an elite athlete with rankings and prize money at stake, pacing and splits won’t be of paramount importance.  Just run and enjoy yourself!

I ran mainly on the beach and let’s just say my split times were no where near comparable to those on road or even trail!

You can leave shirts behind too!

2. Train early in the morning to beat the heat and don’t encroach on family time.

Up and out at 6.30am to avoid the heat of the day… the kids were still in bed so they didn’t notice me gone!

The added benefit was being able to run without sunscreen on my skin enabling me to sweat freely……and plentifully in the high humidity!

3. Hydrate like your life depends on it!

More sweating means more chance of dehydration, cramps, headaches, heat stroke…..your life does depend on it!

Make sure you are drinking enough and I don’t mean beer or sangria!  Hydration is something that needs to happen pre, during and post run.  And consider electrolyte replacement too as vital minerals are lost during sweating!   I was drinking on average 4litres a day of water or electrolytes, choosing H24 Hydrate for the low calorie option and CR7 Drive during runs.

4. Barefoot on the beach….think carefully!

Sounds idyllic…the sand between your toes, the surf lapping your ankles, freedoms of movement….but the laceration from sharp sea shells, flotsam or even discarded drinking bottles (depending on your location) can ruin both your holiday and fitness plans.

I chose to run in a lightweight trainer and not barefoot.  Simply because of the amount of shells on the beach. 

No barefoot for me!

5. Don’t underestimate the impact of heat, humidity and generally higher activity levels.

It’s easy to overdo it in a climate you are unfamiliar with, particularly warmer and more humid. 

Took me a good week to adapt and regain energy levels of back in the UK as the heat and increased levels of activity generally sapped normal levels.

So take it easy, another reason not to push hard and to ditch the gadgets and splits!

6. Chafing and sweat rash

Nightmare!  I suffered terribly for the first few days as I adapted and wearing factor 30 sunscreen stopped my skin breathing.

Prevention better than cure so hydrate well, consider taking antihistamine and keep skin as cool as possible.  Whatever you do don’t scratch it!

I used Aloe Soothing Gel (Herbalife) after each run and switched to a factor 15 dry oil sunscreen.  But again, another reason to train early to avoid hottest parts of day or direct sunlight.

7. Let your training be part of the holiday

It can be a great way to find things or places to visit later in the day.  Consider it environmentally friendly research!

For example, I ran to the local supermarket, harbour and other places of interest as well as exploring the entire beach front (all 4 miles) for excursions with the family later in the week.

8. Meet other people, do some research before hand.

I’d researched local running clubs and emailed them asking for good trails, whether they accepted visitors and any tips.

Got some great responses and the only reason I didn’t take up their invite was the distance to them was too great due to our location.  But I did get to chat to many other runners on the beach and when in the various sports / running shops we visited!

9. Don’t feed the wildlife!

For Florida, this meant not becoming alligator fodder or a buffet service for mosquitos!

Seriously though, research the wildlife in the area you are visiting and take precautions.  The worst we have to contend with in the U.K. is a stray dog or the midgie.  Compared to the Everglades mosquito or an alligator, there is a different strategy to be used in avoiding them!!!

The main thing to remember is you’re on holiday so relax.  Do stuff you enjoy and love, not doing things that are routine or a chore.

I loved running on the beach most days but occasionally I’d do a HIIT workout in the gym or go roller skating.  The point is I was remaining active but having fun and seeing new sights.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, a holiday doesn’t have to be a setback nor a pilgrimage to train….unless you want it to be or chose it to be. 

The more fun you have the better results you’ll get.  Simple.

So go have fun!


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