Running abroad can be reasonably priced and rewarding. It's unsurprisingly becoming more popular. Excellent running destinations can be found all over easily-accessible Europe, and other continents such as America and Africa are only half a day's travel away. Many large charities now offer entry to large city marathons such as New York, as well free flights and accommodation. More and more holiday organisers offering specialist running holidays, some including a race. If neither of these ideas appeal, you could research your own trip and organise it yourself.
Running in Chamonix © Sarah Stirling
Here are my top ten travel tips for runners:
1. If any vaccinations are required have them well in advance - if your body has any adverse effects it will not affect your running.
2. Stay hydrated on the plane by taking a two litre bottle with you and regularly sipping from it.
3. Eat well before you get on the plane as airline food is not always the best if you're replacing energy so need high carbohydrate food.
4. On longer flights take some snacks such as fruit and energy bars.
5. Take your running (and wash) kit in your hand luggage - if your baggage does go missing it won't be such a disaster as you will still be in a position to run and change afterwards.
6. Deal with the time difference by setting your watch to the local time of your destination as soon as you get on the plane.
7. Some do this even sooner - if you do, remember the plane leaves at local time!). On long haul flights this will help you adapt your eating and sleeping pattern.
8. Upon arrival resist the temptation to nap during the day - this will reduce the effects of jet lag.
9. Move around on the plane as much as possible without annoying other passengers! Walk up and down the plane as often as possible and try to keep stretching leg muscles.
10. Take ear plugs, an eye mask and a small pillow to rest your neck to help you get some sleep during the flight.
When you arrive go for a gentle jog to loosen the legs, free the mind from travel and look for good restaurants
Once you're at your destination and booked into the hotel, it's good to familiarise yourself with the local surroundings. I find the best way to do this is to go out for a nice gentle jog to loosen the legs, free the mind from the travel and look for some appropriate restaurants. It will also help you recover from the flight.
And when you arrive:
- Make it a priority to eat and drink if you haven't done so properly on the flight.
- Be extra cautious about drinking tap water - drink bottled if in any doubt.
- Be aware of the different climate conditions and dress appropriately so to avoid exposure, dehydration and sun stroke.
- After a day's travelling have an early night. Travelling is surprisingly energy sapping and stressful. Then get up early, have a good breakfast, and look forward to a great holiday or race.
- If racing, check out the course if possible. Take a close look at the start area and confirm the start time. Also be aware that the distance markers are likely to be in kilometres rather than miles (unles you're in North America).
- On running tours, routes are usually well trodden by others, so venturing out and about is easy and fun, especially in large groups.
- Make the most of running with others, making new friends and experiencing new surroundings and scenery.
- Enjoy the local culture, food, drink and entertainment - particularly after the race.