Ed Note:  This is a revisited post from TheHaySay.com.

For many people, running and vacation don’t fit well in one sentence. Unless, of course, “I’m not running on vacation” is the sentence.

But when you are in the middle of training, for whatever distance, “I’m not running on vacation” isn’t always an option.  Having done a lot of training and vacationing over the past few years, I’m here to say that the words vacation and running should fit in the same sentence.  Even a positive one like, “Whoa!  What a great time I had running on vacation!”

If this is surprising to you, then you are probably like most people and are too busy napping or drinking to even think about running when at {insert favorite vacation spot here}.  But that shouldn’t be the case.  Below I have outlined 4 simple reasons why you should be lacing up running shoes instead of flip flops.  Besides, there will be plenty of time for Mai-tais and puzzles after logging a few miles.

4 Reasons Running and Vacationing Work

1) It’s Fresh – Often at home I find myself running the same routes several times a week. I run past the same intersections, up the same hills, and along the same trails almost every day. For the most part I could do it with my eyes closed.  Vacation gives you the opportunity to explore this new town, city, state, or country that you probably don’t know very well.

Narragansett, RI

Over a vacation a few years ago in Rhode Island I went out for what I had planned to be a 10 mile run. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew that if I went out this one road, it would follow the coastline for several miles.   What I found might have seemed normal to the local, but it was brilliant to me.  Dozens of cut-off streets sending me right down to the water, views of lighthouses, and massive coastal homes.

Minutes and miles were flying by as I ran through these new streets.  I ended up running several miles more than planned and enjoying every minute of it.

2) Change of Conditions – When training and running at home, I am conditioning my body to certain variables.  DC has only so many hills, is always at the same elevation, and tends to be hellishly hot in the summer and wet and cold in the winter.  Over time my body has adapted to just that.

Unless you like to visit places just like where you live, then most likely you are going to a different climate, with varying elevation changes and types of routes.  Training in different conditions not only makes you stronger physically, but will help you adjust mentally when running a race with different variables.

For example, the trails I ran this summer while on vacation in Vermont were a lot different than the typical trail I run in Rock Creek Park.  That challenged how I was able to concentrate on footing and speed, and over time will make me a stronger runner.  That doesn’t just apply to terrain.  The same thing goes with weather and altitude.

3) Let Lose and Explore – If you are anything like me, you often find yourself totally caught up in weekly mileage stats.  Too frequently I’m so focused on how many miles I’ve run that week that I forget to go out and run for the love of running. I often pick my routes for the length, not the enjoyment.

Because you usually don’t know where you are going when you take off for a jog while on vacation, it gives you the perfect opportunity to go out there and just run. Don’t bother opening up your mapmyrun account, and leave that Garmin at home. Pick a set amount of time and a direction, and take off.

There is no better way to get to know a new place than to do it on foot.  Running is the perfect way to explore.

4) Taking Care of the Body and Mind – Vacation is all about rejuvenation.  We go on vacation to leave the stresses, complications, and hardships of every day life behind.  We are trying to take care of both the body and mind.

Running serves that purpose for many of us at home, so let it serve that purpose on vacation.  Instead of thinking about that work e-mail that you might have thought about during a run at home, let your mind just float and relax.  Try meditative running.  Try running without a watch.  Try slowing your pace or focusing on your breath.

A nice, easy run is always rejuvenating.  Let it enhance your time away and relax the body and mind.

Running through your vacation can seem like an added stress you would rather just leave at home, but with the right outlook it can be a real highlight. Keep up your running, keep enjoying your vacation.

Anyone else do any vacation running this summer?

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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