My clients frequently ask, "How much should I run or walk during my vacation?"
I tell them, "If you want to run or walk, you can. Or, if you want to take the week off, go ahead."
I train very consistently five to six days every week, all year. When I take a week's vacation, I usually opt to relax and do no running. This allows my legs to recharge. A complete break from the pounding gives any "hot spots" a chance to mend.
Many runners will not take a week off. They fear a loss of hard- earned conditioning. If you remain active by walking, hiking or swimming, you have nothing to fear.
When my vacation takes place in the midst of a serious training goal, I opt for an "active rest" approach. I run every other day at "vacation pace," making each run a fun exploration of my new environment.
Sometimes I carry a disposable camera. This is a wonderful way to observe the area's people, plants and wildlife.
Be conscious of your safety while running or walking in new places. Check with your hotel about where, and more important, where not to go. Plan by searching the Internet for Web sites that list the best exercise venues. Participate in a group workout with a local running or walking club.
If you go to a beach or a resort area, be careful about running or walking for long distances on surfaces to which you are not accustomed. Avoid sand, slanted beaches and hard concrete surfaces.
Level asphalt streets with less traffic, soft trails or grassy surfaces are best.
As for diet, try to make healthy choices and trade-offs. For example: On cruises, I eat a lot of fruit and eggs for breakfast, go light for lunch, and enjoy seafood and veggies for dinner. I consume less beef and fried foods, and I don't (OK, I try not to) eat too much dessert.
Remember that there are lots of extra calories in alcoholic beverages. On days when you imbibe more, you should drink more water and consume fewer calories when you eat.
I have created this rule to keep myself under control:
The Rule of Excess: When it comes to good food and drink, enjoy yourself (within reason) for two days, but on the third day, give your body a break and return to your normal caloric intake.
Don't weigh yourself immediately when you get back home. Weigh one week later instead.
Life is short. Vacations are magical. Enjoy good food. Get rested and refreshed, and then, get right back in gear when you return.
Mark Higginbotham, a certified running coach and personal trainer, is the founder of Memphis In Motion.
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