Coach Mike Mead

Running Vacation - August 2003

As I pen this month’s column, I’m concluding a two-week vacation. I’m a little late in turning in my August column to Scott for several reasons including the selection of the topic to write about this month. Then it hit me one morning while on a run during my hiatus that I need to write about taking a running vacation. There are two trains of thought on this one. The first is to go off somewhere and incorporate running into your R&R time. The second is to take a siesta from your running routine.


Most times I find myself struggling to keep up with my running when I take any serious vacation time. Two years ago I went on a 10-day bus tour of the West and managed to run every day I was on the road, sometimes rising at 5:30 a.m. to get in the run before the bus pulled out for our tour’s next segment. Some vacation, huh?

Actually, I find running while on vacation lets me see some areas I may not get to see on the trip. It’s also a good way to “scout out” an area if you’re going to be in the same location for a few days. A few years back I would regularly attend a yearly conference (“working vacation”) in late June/early July. Usually I was away for almost a week. I would get out for a run to see some of the sights since I may not get to because of conference commitments. It also gave me a better prospective of the city I was visiting like Boston, Chicago and even Brugge, Belgium.

On my first visit to meet my future in-laws in Cape Girardeau, Mo. some years back, I got out the first morning for a run around town to get my bearings. Later in the day, we all went out for a drive about town so that I could be shown the local sights. I spoiled my tour guides’ plans a bit for each time we went by a particular landmark they wanted to show me, I responded with, “I already saw that.”

What’s great about these so-called running vacations is it gives you a break from your regular running routine and running routes. It also allows me some time to reflect on how my running has been going or rejuvenate my feelings toward running. I enjoy the new scenery and it really enhances the vacation experience for me. I usually visit the Midwest and am blessed to usually get a day or two of cooler weather. My just completed trip included three straight days of highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s.

It’s also interesting to jump in a race while you’re on vacation. I’ve done this numerous times throughout the years and it’s a kick to show up at a race where you’re an unknown. You get a different prospective about your racing. You’re forced outside of your comfort zone racing against unfamiliar folks then those you frequently race and may frequently beat.


My second thought on vacation running is to give your self a break from the weekly grind of the activity. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The same holds true with running. If you do not give yourself a break from running now and then, you’ll either get stale in your training and racing, or you may get injured.

Be sure to regularly (at least once a year) schedule a vacation from running. You don’t have to go cold turkey, but take a break from your running routine and you should experience better times in a few weeks after you resume your routine. You may experience a renewed interest in the sport, which will result in better training and faster times.

My coaching, as well as my previous careers, always seems to force me to take breaks from my competitive training and racing. Lately it has been a little frustrating since I may get in decent shape training with my runners, but cannot race since it conflicts with their racing season. But that is the nature of the job. But this has also kept me from getting seriously injured throughout my running career.

If your job doesn’t interfere with your training and racing, you may need to schedule a vacation now and then from running. The key word here is “schedule.” Doing so will also avoid burnout which I’ve witnessed many younger runners experience. Having a scheduled break from running is just as important as base training or speed work.

So, if you’ve been grinding it out for some time with running and haven’t seen much progression in your racing times maybe a well-deserved vacation is in order. Or maybe you just need a change of scenery and routine. Whatever the case, take a break before you break!