Greetings from Fortuna, Costa Rica! My wife an I are currently traveling on the holiday and fining the escape from the holiday scene refreshing. Like many of you, however, I often want to balance my sight seeing, making the most of my trip, with training. A big vacation should never completely side line your hard work up to that point. Here are a few ideas for you to ponder that I did in the lead up to my trip to make the most of my training before, during and after.
First thing I recognize is that there is there’s no way to maintain your structured training and maximize your enjoyment, especially If you have kids. You need to look at vacation as a nice active recovery period and cut your training back. Your trip should be part of your periodized plan, not some random interruption.
Train like you mean it, before you leave!
We knew we were definitely heading to Costa Rica about a month before, so I had plenty of time to plan, but the holidays tend to be a major disruption anyway, so there was too much to change. The plan was to cut back and recover from several weeks of hard training. While we were heading to Central America, pool facilities tend to be unreliable at best, so I packed my rubber bands in case I needed to augment my training. However, the trip as a whole would be a nice break in training, so loss of any fitness isn’t something I worried about.
Have a plan, but even the best laid plans…
Obviously you do need to have some type of minimal plan if you hope to get any training accomplished. Simply arriving and training by the seat of your pants will work even worse on vacation than it will at home. Research the area and the accommodations to follow girl out what resources you will have, and what you’ll need. Here are my general rules that I follow:
* if swimming not is a must, be sure you have a pool or swim venue. In the USA this not too difficult, but for international trips this can be challenging. I will either research it thoroughly, if possible, and accept what is available.
* if a bike rental or good gym ergometer is not available, I’d forget cycling altogether. In fact, I’ve all but written off riding on trips because it’s become such a hassle to deal with bikes and find good routes. Again, if this is a must, contact a local shop for help.
* running is the easiest option for training, and generally the easiest to plan for. All you need are your shoes and a road. If you there are hiking trails, this is a great alternative to running. I love finding a good mountain to hike.
* expect that at least part of your plan will not come to fruition. As I said earlier, it’s better to plan this as active be rest than a fitness builder!
Take advantage of the natural world
As I suggested above, hiking trails are a great option for running, and steep mountain hikes are a good option for running or cycling. Taking advantage of what’s available at your location can make training more convenient and this likely to actually happen. Finally, be sure to actually enjoy your vacation. Training is just a distraction for most and a little bit of training is all you need to maintain the majority of your hard fought gains.
Fortunately for me, we have a reasonable pool at our first hotel, so I’ve been able to add in a bit of swim training; really some short intervals, a little technical drill work and my room boer bands. All this totaled 25 min of training over 2 days; enough to maintain your fitness. Obviously, cycling wasn’t going to happen, and that was fine by me. Running, however, proved to be a good option that included an amazing mist and rain shrouded climb up the extent not volcano Cerro Chato; I had research this hike beforehand, and proved a fun challenge, climbing about 2000 ft in 2 miles, plus a challenging climb down to the crater lake, then back out, then all downhill for 5 miles in 3 1/2 hrs. I added 2 mile and 4 mile runs the next two days on some primitive roads early in the morning. Below are some pics from my first few days in Costa Rica, and I should have my Strava files up by January 1st.
With the first 3 days down, we are heading to Manuel Antonio and the Pacific, so I expect a beach run and maybe a short ocean swim, so be on the lookout for the next post.
Here’s what my training looked like leading up to my travel out:
Sat – rest
Sun – 90 min run then an hour on the rollers
Mon – 2225 yd swim with intervals
Tue – easy 3 mile run then an hour on the rollers with a 10 min ramp up to 300 W for 2 min
Wed – fly to CR, 10 min easy swim
Thurs – swim 15 min total of swim workout, 3 1/2 hr hike
Fri – 2 mile run, 10 min swim/workout, easy hike. Spa action.
Sat – 4 mile dirt road run with 1.5 mile at race pace. Travel.