American running legend Frank Shorter once said that, "Running won't change your life, just the way you live it." When planning a vacation, I usually browse the race listings. And when I see a race that's on my bucket list, it becomes a likely candidate for the next family vacation. Vacation and running combine to form a new concept, the racecation.
When planning a family racecation, there are several important things to consider. First and foremost, it's a family vacation. So, you'll want to make sure you plan enough fun things to keep your entire family entertained and happy during the trip. You may be worried about the race, but the rest of your family shouldn't be.
On the other hand, you have probably been training for this special race for a long time and want to run well. Be sure to communicate how important this race is with your family and encourage them to join you as you scout the race location, look over the course maps, and plan your race day. Bring them to the race expo as well.
Bring your own food.
Eating healthy meals and race-friendly foods can be a challenge when traveling. Bring along some staples like bagels, pretzels, and fruit. Remember that security rules will prohibit you from bringing peanut butter, energy drinks, and some other food items. It may be a good idea to go shopping for a few of these things after you arrive.
Stick to your routine.
Be a creature of habit. Be sure to eat and sleep as you would at home. Not only will this make things easier on your children, but it will help minimize the disruption to your body's internal clock.
Don't walk too much.
This sounds like it might be an easy rule to follow, but it's one that I have struggled with more than any other. If you walk around the city to see the sights, you may be surprised how many miles you rack up over the course of the day. When I visited San Diego last year for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, I covered 12 miles the day before the race. Tough to run your best on tired legs.
Use your maps and apps.
Use your smartphone to make your life easier. Map out your destinations ahead of time. A bird's eye view of your location in real-time makes it easy if you get lost or need help finding your destination. You can even use a GPS app and follow the prompts as if you were in a car. I also depend upon apps like UrbanSpoon to help me find decent restaurants when I am in a new place. If you're a Twitter user, check out the hashtag for your race. Many times other runners are posting helpful pre and post-race suggestions.
Plan for your fans.
Your fans are the most important people in your life. Plan a vacation that you'd all enjoy even if the race is cancelled. On race day, pick out your post-race meeting locations and find some good cheering spots along the course. Seeing your family or friends along the race course will boost your spirits and make them a part of your fantastic racecation experience.