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Training around your holidays

We are into spring marathon training season now, with less than 20 weeks to go until the London Marathon. Time is going to fly by.

With lots of runners taking winter holidays, it can be tricky to work out how to manage training around them.

In a perfect world, we'd coincide our holiday with a planned break from running. That way we can go away, relax and forget about training.

Here are a few scenarios runners often encounter and the type of training we suggest you can do over this time.

Hitting the slopes!

Spending all day on the slopes skiing / boarding and enjoying some good apre-ski is not the ideal training environment.

Not only are your legs already tired from skiing all day, but there’s often very limited suitable running terrain. You may well be at altitude too.

Ideally you should take the week off running and just enjoy the skiing. You can then come back refreshed and ready to get back into your training. If you can link the skiing week with an easier training week, that would be smart, which might mean adapting the plan a little before hand.

Don’t kid yourself that a ski holiday is good marathon training, it isn’t! It is a good holiday and you are fairly active, but it isn’t anything like endurance training.

Just missing 1 week of a 20 week marathon plan is ok though, especially if it is early on in the plan. If you’ve booked a ski holiday just 4 weeks before your marathon, then you may want to seriously reconsider your marathon training goals.

Warm Weather Holidays

Some people want to get away from the miserable British winter and escape for some winter sun. This is what I have done for the last few years and it can have its own perils.

Whilst warm weather training is great, we went to a small island, where it was hot and humid, with poorly lit pavements and limited routes to run on. This can make the whole ordeal a bit scary!

Depending on where you are going on holiday and the facilities available to you, your options are going to vary significantly.

I arranged a gym day and got a session done on the treadmill in a lovely air-conditioned environment! This was great as it allowed me to do some quality training in much more comfortable conditions. It helped that this one session went really well too!

If you have the use of a gym while away, you can take the opportunity to focus on some strength and conditioning. I had a 25 minute TRX routine that I could do, along with core work and some own body weight circuits. It meant I could do a little bit each day and not feel too guilty about enjoying myself. Make the most of this extra time you have not running!

You could also use the time to do some swimming, or other cross training activities in the sun.

With the conditions being as they are, always run to effort level and not pace. You aren’t going to run quick in 80% humidity!

If you go on a warm weather holiday, have a rough plan to follow, but move things around each day depending on how you feel and what else is going on. After all you probably aren’t on holiday alone and shouldn’t be forcing your training on everyone else. Most importantly have fun and enjoy your time away!

Trekking Holiday

The trekking holiday is becoming more and more popular, you get to be active and see some amazing sights. However it often means camping out or living in basic conditions. The time on your feet is going to be helpful in building up endurance, but again you might choose to plan your holiday as a break from running so you can get back on it when you return.

The Stag-Do!

Thankfully these ‘holidays’ usually only last a few days, often over a weekend. Let's be serious now, you aren’t going to run during this time. Get the plan adjusted, either do your long run the week before you go away, or coincide it with an easier week and take the time off.

Key advice

Get your coach to adjust your training plan in advance. Use the holiday as an easier training week, either with no training, or something a bit less than usual. You can’t train the same as you do when at home, and if you go into the holiday expecting to then you will come back demotivated and frustrated with yourself. If you plan around it then you can use the time positively and come back refreshed and ready for some quality training on your return.

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