Everyone loves a holiday for the time away from many of our daily commitments, but for runners it’s an opportunity to explore new places, see amazing views and do completely different types of running such as fells and trails, or seeing famous landmarks in big cities. Here’s what you might need to consider for those mid-marathon training holidays.
If you’re training for a PB
Pushing yourself to run the fastest marathon you ever have is no easy task, you know that, so careful planning of holiday timing/destinations is a must if you’re looking to get the best out of your training.
I’d never really considered the importance of holidays in training until this year when two clients, both training for marathon PBs, went on two holidays each to very hilly areas within 3 weeks. As beautiful as the Lake District, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands are, they’re not ideal preparation for a marathon when you live somewhere as flat as Norfolk.
Between the long car journeys and all the hills, training suffered quite a bit, and both unfortunately ended up with calf/Achilles injuries after the second holiday, despite trying to manage injury risk by lowering their training intensity. Several training runs were altered, cut short or missed for both clients. One client deferred close to the marathon as it hadn’t healed properly whilst the other client…
Still take a break but plan for it
It’s really key that if you’ve got a holiday booked, you plan around it. Plan in advance and schedule an easier week of training either using a drop-down week with fewer miles and lower intensity/paces, or by adding an extra week to your training plan so that holiday running can be done based on how you feel.
Choose flatter areas to go on holiday to, or go as early on in your training block as possible so that if you do have any problems, they have less of an impact on your training.
Life gets in the way
It’s not always straightforward to plan your holidays around your marathon, and the trips and race dates were moved because of the Covid-19 pandemic making it almost unavoidable for these clients.
At this point, the only real option is to research your routes in advance using Google Maps, Garmin Connect’s route planning tool, or the website www.plotaroute.com, or to take a much easier week with a shorter/easier long run to minimise risk as much as possible.
Other holiday and marathon training tips
If the marathon you’ve got coming up isn’t about running a PB, or it’s a trail marathon or particularly tough course, then planning your holiday accordingly is less of a factor, and tough terrain whilst away could actually be a benefit.
Although Norfolk is pretty flat, we have a coastal marathon launching in 2022 with over 2000ft of elevation. This is bound to be far slower than a normal marathon, so a trip to the Lake District for some hilly runs could actually be very useful in preparation, all you have to consider then is building up to it over a few weeks of hillier long runs, specific hill running sessions and strength and mobility training, all of which I’d hope you’d be doing anyway with such a marathon course to train for.
I don’t want to be a spoil-sport or cause concern that doesn’t need to exist, but a holiday at the wrong time or in the wrong place can completely derail any plans of a PB which is what most people approach me wanting. You can have your cake and eat it, but you must plan well then execute that plan to the letter.
Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk