When June rolled around I was excited for my summer gig, a job that had me road tripping around the Western US with the #yourlead van for three months. I was going to run all the trails + pile on the miles. With two big races scheduled for my fall I figured I would have no problem getting in my training. Little did I know how hard it is to fit running in with traveling!
Sure, I had easy access to all of the trails but I also had to spend many hours driving around a work schedule that required me to be near civilization for hours on end. It wasn’t a bad schedule to have, but it put a kink in my run-all-the-miles game plan. My training did not kick off as I had planned. I spent some time struggling to find a feasible balance.
After a few weeks of fighting to get in my miles I found some semblance of a schedule that let me run + live on the road. It wasn’t perfect, but on the good days it worked out well. While not everyone gets the chance to live on the road for three months a lot of these little tactics may be useful for week long vacations or even a long weekend.
Run When You Can
The biggest thing I learned while road tripping was…run every chance you can. Obviously, within reason, but if you have 30 minutes or an hour + a pair of running shoes calling your name, go for it! It might not be the 15 miler you had on your training plan but if you can get two hour long runs in throughout the day you’re doing pretty good.
It’s not quite perfect, but it will get you solid miles + it will give you the opportunity to explore a lot of new areas. Rather than holding out for a long run in the evening you’ll have the chance to run around a cute town in the morning then explore some remote trails in the evening.
**full disclosure: if you train for a 100K race using this tactic be prepared for extra fatigue come race day, multiple 15-20 mile days will never make up for getting in a solid 30 miler in!**
Use The Internet To Find Trails
The biggest challenge while traveling was finding trails to run. It sounds like it’d be a simple task, but finding beta on trails is not as easy as one would hope! Some states or counties have incredible websites with oodles of trail details, seek them out. Washington has the Washington Trail Association [http://wta.org], which has great route info, maps + reviews. Colorado’s Jefferson County has the JeffCo Open Space [http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/] site with details on parks, trails + closures.
When you can’t find good details on local sites [Idaho + Utah leave a lot to be desired] there are other global sites that have a lot of trail information as well. Two great ones are http://protrails.com and http://alltrails.com. Both require some level of membership, but you can get most of the details with a basic overview of what the local trails have to offer.
**side note: when you’re out exploring new trails always hit the trail open minded, you may be hoping for a steep climb but find beautiful rollers instead, that’s okay…focus on the fact you’re outside + spending time on your feet as that is all still training!**
Make New Trail Friends
Let people know where you’re going! More often than not they’ll have great trail beta or at the very least a few suggestions to look into. Whether this is done in person or online…it’s invaluable information, get it!
One way to let people know where you’re headed is to post online — ask for recommendations + check to see if you have any friends living or traveling in that area. A quick post of Facebook or Twitter can get you a handful of trailheads to check out + a friend or two to explore with.
Another great resource for trail beta + trail friends is at a local cafe or coffee shop. It’s easy to slip a request for local recommendations into a casual conversation with the barista or the person waiting in line near you. Just say ‘hey’ and let the rest flow naturally [or, not flow at all…a risk you take + move on from], you never know what kind of information they’ll have for you!
**keep in mind: just because someone lives in an epic mountain town doesn’t mean they spend a ton of time on the same sort of trails you’re looking for — use your own judgement, too!**
Of course, there are other ways to get solid trail information + find trail friends. You can always look into local groups [Bold Betties, local running stores, etc] or chat up people in localized Facebook groups [a little harder to find without knowing someone in the area]. And if you’re looking for workouts beyond basic trail runs check out local gyms or yoga studios for free trial passes. Those options all require a little more planning + more than a day or two in an area, but are still fantastic options if they fit your travel schedule.
What other tips do you have for getting outside + exploring the trails while you’re traveling? What am I missing? Because, while I did find a balance that worked for me, I’m always looking for more ways to meld training + travel together.