I love to travel. I also love to run road races. I’ve combined the two with mixed results over the years. Today I wanted to share five tips that I think are key to planning the ultimate runcation with your best running friends.
Tip #1 – This is a runcation, not a family vacation
Before you commit yourself to a runcation it is very important that you communicate with your family first. The truth about a runcation is that it is based on the idea of traveling with running friends to a destination race. The entire thing is built around running and if your family isn’t into that they are not going to be into a runcation. This means there is a certain level of selfishness about a runcation and if you are not communicating your goals, expectations and aspirations to your loved ones a runcation can create friction at home. Your loved ones are just that, they love and support you; but if you spend a bunch of time and money planning a runcation that doesn’t include them in the process you are setting yourself up for big problems.
This is a lesson I’m still learning. The second part of this is to make sure a family vacation is just that, all about family. We just recently went to Disney as a family and running did not play a significant part of our trip. My time and attention was focused on making the most memorable and perfect experience rooted in family time. If you are at a place where you are planning runcations you need to be at a place where you can leave running behind on family vacations.
Tip #2 – Communicate, communicate, communicate
Traveling well is all about executing the details. I love to travel with my wife Chelsea because she is an expert planner. Even when I have to travel for work she makes me a checklist to insure that I get all of the details covered. When you travel with a group that isn’t your family you have to communicate even more than usual for travel. Where are you going to stay? Hotel, Air BnB, campground? These are details that you have to figure out and what sounds like a lot of fun to you might be worrisome to your friends. When I went with a group of buds to the LA Marathon we had one friend that wanted to rent a car because he had never used Uber or Lift and the idea made him nervous. These little details are things you need to discuss prior to showing up in Los Angeles or some other major metro area.
As a rule of thumb I personally like to pay for trips in advance. You usually get a better deal this way and if you are splitting costs with the group you can budget and make sure everyone is paid up before you go. In my experience this makes a trip much more fun. It also helps with tip number one as well. If you can communicate costs to your loved one and agree on a budget you are less likely to create friction at home. Also you don’t want to be chasing your friends around after a trip trying to get money back. That is never a fun experience.
Tip #3 – Have other stuff planned for your trip
Think about this. If you are planning a runcation how much of your time is actually going to be running? If you head out for a weekend only a fraction of your time is going to be dedicated to a race or adventure run. In some runcation trips like the Grand Canyon or Ragnar events this might look a little different, but I think the rule still applies. Plan stuff that is entertaining. Even if you are going with friends you’ve been running with for years I promise you on a runcation you will learn something new about the people you spend so much of your time with.
Planning out activities is good, but be mindful of the varying levels of budget each participate might bring to the table. Chelsea also has a rule that I can’t do fun touristy things that she would enjoy without her, so what I plan in advance are things that are less touristy, but still important on a runcation. Things like conversation starters for car rides or time hanging out at a meal or in a hotel. Being intentional about getting to know the people you are with on a deeper level will go a long way to making your trip that much more memorable. Also think about activities that are recovery friendly. To use my trip to LA as an example again, following the marathon we all went straight to the pool/hot tub at our hotel post-race and spent a fair bit of time just recapping our run.
Tip #4 – Don’t plan on a PR
This one falls under the category of do what I say, not as I do. I’ve written in the past about how competitive I am. Even as I get older and less competitive in general I still can get pretty intense sometimes. A race is often a culmination of months of training so there is nothing wrong with wanting to run well during a runcation. I wouldn’t however plan on your trip leading to a personal record. While this will be a fun experience, I promise you’re going to be distracted. Chances are if you are with a group of friends two things are going to happen. One you are going to eat and two you are going to drink. There is nothing better to do with friends than to share a meal and a beverage. Even if you don’t drink alcohol you’ll spend more time with a group at meal time, which means the opportunity to eat more and drink more is plentiful. This flies in the face of the meticulous planning required for personal best outings.
Another distraction is that you are away from your family and even though you planned a runcation you are still going to miss them and want to be with them. This pulls at your mind and makes running well that much more challenging. I would suggest putting speed aspirations aside on a runcation and just taking the time to enjoy the experience with some of your close friends.
Tip #5 – Set an intention for your trip
My final tip comes back to communication, but I feel like this is the most important aspect of planning a runcation with friends. If three of you show up to a runcation with the intention of running really well and a two of you show up with the idea of a weekend long frat party the trip isn’t going to end well. Having a clear intention for your trip with your group is the key to planning a successful runcation. It makes fulfilling all of the other tips easier. For example if the group is going to run well you can plan healthy eating options, set early bedtimes and not worry about touristy things as much. If you are going with a bunch of friends to have a good time you can plan a pub crawl or go to a special show. It all depends on what your intentions are.
That is it, my five tips for a successful runcation. Let me know what your tips are and if you've put any of these tips to use in your own runcation planning.
Greg Koch is the Co-Owner and General Manager of 605 Running Company and Co-Produces the Sioux Falls Skedaddle Half Marathon. He serves on the Board of Directors for Downtown Sioux Falls, the 605 Race Crew and the Sioux Falls Area Running Club. When Greg isn’t with his family or working he enjoys being outside biking, kayaking, golfing or playing church softball.
YouTube: 605 Running Company
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